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IDC sees $49 billion Linux server business in 2011


Austin, Texas–Once upon a time, you found Linux as a server in two places in the enterprise: on the edge, as a Web server, and in the branch office, as a file and print server. That was then. This is now.

In a speech at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit at the University of Texas Super Computing Center here, IDC Vice President of Research Al Gillen said that Linux is now growing quickly as the heart of mission-critical enterprise application servers. How quickly? Try the Linux server business will grow to $49 billion in 2011.

In his speech, Gillen said, “While these basic workload deployments continue to grow in volume, additional workloads, including database, ERP, decision support and general business processing, are steadily advancing their share of total Linux deployments.” What this means for Linux is that it quickly is becoming a mission-critical part of business.

In terms of dollars and cents, IDC expects to see Linux software spending growing from 2006 to 2011 at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 35.7 percent. The overall spending on Linux, including software, hardware, and services, is increasing over the same period at a CAGR of 24.1 percent. So if this spending continues at the rate IDC expects, the total spending on Linux will grow from 2007’s $21 billion in 2007 to $49 billion by 2011.

Now, if only the economy were growing at a rate even half of that, there would be no talk of a recession.

At this growth rate, Gillen said Linux’s share of the total server market “is expected to grow to more than 9 percent by 2011, or $31 billion in Linux-related software revenue in a total market that will grow to $330 billion.” As in the past, much of that growth is expected to come at the expense of Unix.

Linux’s growth is not uniform across different businesses. Gillen noted that “users in verticals such as government, financial services and general services are more likely to move to Linux as a replacement for existing Unix servers.”

Looking ahead, “Windows continues to present a significant long-term challenge for Linux,” said Gillen. At the same time, though, “Microsoft has shifted its approach to both Linux and other open-source technology and today is working both competitively and cooperatively with Linux solutions at a technology and development level. However, the company still takes a highly competitive marketing and sales approach to Linux.”

Another development IDC sees coming in the next few years that may boost Linux’s enterprise server growth even higher is what Gillen calls “software appliances.” These are turnkey software stacks “that incorporate operating system functionality along with middleware and other infrastructure software components, and potentially with application software as well.” If this happens, this will give vendors with a strong software stack–such as a Novell, Red Hat or Sun–a chance for “higher-volume deployments of Linux, even though it will reduce revenue opportunities for discrete products.”

The bottom line: Linux is continuing to become the life’s blood of many businesses. Or, as in the case of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, an early Linux adopter, it already is. A representative of the Exchange at the Summit said, “We’re already doing a trillion dollars of trades on the exchange.” What part of mission-critical ready do you not understand? ”

A version of this story was first published on Linux-Watch.

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