Big data, cloud expand enterprise Linux

More enterprises actively participating in open source projects

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Enterprise users are still doubling down on their Linux bets, thanks to the motivation brought on by big data, cloud computing, and virtualization.

That's one takeaway of a new report released today by the Linux Foundation, based on a survey of just over 400 enterprise Linux users. The survey, conducted in conjunction with the Yeoman Technology Group, reveals that 84 percent of companies currently using Linux have expanded their usage of the operating system over the past 12 months.

Much of that growth is driven by big data: over "75% of respondents expressed concern about supporting 'Big Data,' and nearly 72% are choosing Linux to support it," a release from the Linux Foundation stated. "Only 35.9% are planning to use Windows to meet the demands of this new environment."

Cloud computing and virtualization are big motivators for continued Linux adoption.

"All told, 61% of organizations now cite cloud-based applications, whether public, private, or hybrid. Of those users in the cloud, 66% are using Linux as their primary platform, up 4.7% from last year. Going forward, 34.9% of organizations are planning to migrate more applications to the cloud, up from 26% last year.

"The decade-long growth of virtualization on x86 platforms is also clearly reflected in our annual survey, with 72% of organizations expecting to have 25% or more of their servers virtualized by year's end. More than 46% of organizations expect to have 50% or more of their platforms virtualized by the end of 2012, an 18% increase over last year."

Perhaps more of interest to the broader open source community is the data that shows that more of those same enterprise respondents are participating in open source projects and that the number of companies that are not participating in any way within an open source project has dropped over ten points from 33.1 percent last year to 23.0 percent this year.

The report clearly demonstrates a continued loyalty to Linux, though this invitation-only survey should be regarded with some caveats.

According to the report, "the results of this survey were based on responses from 428 IT professionals from organizations with $500 million or more a year in revenues or 500+ employees. The vast majority (65.6%) identified themselves as IT/IS staff or developers and represented a wide range of industries. Users from the US and Canada make up 41.6% of the respondents, 27.1% are from Europe, and 15.2% are from Asia."

That the respondents are all current enterprise Linux users should be noted; a survey of users in similar Windows enterprise deployments would obviously have different results.

But one has to wonder how much different those results would be. While Windows seems to be present in virtualization, its numbers are still rather low in that sector. In cloud computing, Azure deployments are still trailing behind those of Amazon Web Services and other Linux-dominated platform providers. As for big data, that sector is currently monopolized by Linux and open source tools.

It becomes an interesting thought experiment: did the presence of Linux make the growth of these sectors possible, or vice versa? As with all things in life, likely a mix of both: the initial presence of a strong and free operating system made it feasible to build the initial tools for virtualization, cloud, and big data. Once adoption became broader, it made sense to keep running those same tools on the platform on which they were developed: Linux.

Since none of these sectors appears to be diminishing any time soon, it's easy to predict the continued expansion of Linux enterprise use as 2012 continues.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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