Survey: Linux gaining acceptance in the enterprise

The Linux operating system has "an established and growing presence" in the enterprise market, although it remains a nascent technology in the early stages of adoption, according to a new study released Monday by the research unit of The Goldman Sachs Group investment bank.

The study, based on an October survey of 100 IT managers at large U.S. multinationals, says that 39 percent of respondents had deployed Linux "in some capacity," including not only the traditional Linux niche of ordinary print/file, e-mail and Web servers and desktop PCs, but also surprisingly for more important tasks in mainframes, data centers, application servers and databases.

However, the study cautions that "Linux will need to prove itself among early adopters before more widescale deployment" in the data center. Moreover, Linux didn't rank as a top priority for respondents, a sign that its adoption will be slow and steady, instead of explosive, according to the study.

Still, the future looks bright for Linux in the data center space, as more and more IT managers better understand the cost-savings the operating system can yield and as more enterprise software becomes available for it, according to the study.

In other findings, the study shows that the top priority for IT managers right now is to cut costs, as their IT budgets on average are slated to increase a paltry 2 percent to 3 percent in 2003.

Most respondents expect IT spending to accelerate again at best during the second half of 2003, and then only if their companies' revenue increases significantly and profitability improves, according to the study. This indicates that IT spending is tied to macroeconomic improvements, and not so much to compelling technology offerings, the survey found.

As for this year, only 3 percent of respondents said they planned to overspend their IT budget. The rest said they planned to either "spend out" their budget (39 percent), slightly underspend it (53 percent) or significantly underspend it (4 percent) by the end of the year.

Other top-ranking priorities for IT managers include application integration, information security and disaster recovery/business continuity. On the other end, lower-ranking IT priorities include managed network services, adoption of the Linux operating system and network convergence of technologies such as voice-over-IP and videoconferencing.

Respondents named Microsoft, Red Hat, Veritas Software, IBM and BEA Systems as vendors that are gaining share of their software spending dollars, while Computer Associates International, Novell, Siebel Systems and Oracle emerged as vendors that are losing share of respondents' software budgets, according to the survey.

Respondents included chief information officers, IT directors, chief technology officers and IT managers from companies with annual revenue ranging from below US$1 billion to over $10 billion. Respondents work in a variety of industries, including financial services, communications, manufacturing, government, retail, health care and education.

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