Amost half of Australia's enterprises have taken an active interest in Linux, with the Internet driving its take up, according to an IDC survey.
The Continuum survey, conducted in late 2000, of organisations' spending, usage and attitude on IT software and services across 12 Asia-Pacific countries, found Linux experimentation within Australian enterprises is quite high.
However, Natasha David, senior analyst, software for IDC, said Linux will not be used for mission-critical enterprise applications in the near future.
"There is a clear trend for enterprises to regard Linux as not being suitable for mission-critical enterprise applications. Linux is not yet considered mature enough to handle those applications which demand reliability and availability," David said. "Another major factor that has held back widespread deployment is the availability of quality [staff]."
About 65 per cent of organisations running or planning to run the operating system (OS) do so for specialised applications. 22 per cent are running or wanting to run it for both specialised and general-purpose applications, and the remaining use it for general-purpose applications.
The survey found the main application areas where the OS is being deployed are Internet and intranet, e-mail messaging and Web server and hosting.
"The success of Linux will depend a great deal on the creation of non-Internet applications," David said.
Other areas of deployment include real-time process control, publishing information and education and batch time-sharing. "Some thought also seems to be going around for deploying Linux for large enterprise applications like CRM."
David said Linux is not being used in the broader areas of enterprise applications, such as networking, databases, ERP and the supply chain, which she believes may inhibit the uptake of Linux as an acceptable enterprise platform alternative in the near future.
Current deployment of the Linux operating system within Australian enterprises is quite low at 18 per cent, however the survey found an additional 28 per cent of companies had experimented or are experimenting with Linux.
A very rapid time frame for deployment of Linux is suggested by the survey. Deployment within parts of an enterprise is suggested to reach 25 per cent by May 2001, 39 per cent by November next year, and 50 per cent within five years.
David said a prime opportunity for Linux lies in the replacement of Windows NT. "As Windows 2000 is expected to displace NT, Linux has a chance to increase its penetration on the server side by capturing market shares of both NT and 2000."