Recession Is Driving Open Source Uptake, Says Novell

CloudDatacentreOpen SourceSoftware

But some open source experts claim the software is about more than saving money

Companies are turning to community developed software in larger numbers as the recession continues to bite into IT budgets, according to open source specialist Novell.

More than half of IT managers plan to “accelerate Linux adoption” this year, according to a survey carried out by research firm IDC, and sponsored by Novell, the former proprietary software maker which acquired the Suse Linux distribution in November 2003.

More than 72 percent of respondents are planning or have already decided to increase use of Linux on servers, according to a report on the research, which surveyed 300 senior IT professionals from organisations with more than 100 staff.

Surprisingly, the survey also showed that around 68 percent of companies were also planning to increase their use of Linux on the desktop. However given that existing uptake of the open source OS on the desktop is extremely low, it is not clear what this would translate into in terms of market share – although the rise of netbooks has seen interest in open source notebooks increase.

The main reason IT professionals gave for migrating to Linux was a desire to reduce support costs during the recession.

“The feedback gleaned from this market survey confirms our belief that, as organisations fight to cut costs and find value in this tough economic climate, Linux adoption will accelerate,” said Markus Rex, general manager and senior vice president for Open Platform Solutions at Novell.

However some open source experts claim that community developed software is about freedom of use rather than lower costs. Speaking late last week, Free Software Foundation president Richard Stallman said that companies that focused purely on the cost-saving opportunites from Linux didn’t understand what the software was really designed for.

“I won’t say no to more users, but of course if they only bought the thing to save them money then they have missed the main point, so what we need to do is show them that there are more important things,” the Free Software Foundation (FSF) president told EWeek Europe UK.

Novell seized on the main barrier to greater open source use cited in the report: lack of integration with Windows. According to the IDC report, around 67 percent of respondents said that Windows integration was a factor when it came to further adoption of Linux.

Novell presents its Suse Linux as better integrated with Windows, having made a controversial deal with Microsoft – although open source advocates say the deal was more about Novell protecting itself from potential litigation from Redmond over patent issues concerning Linux.

Novell has used its relationship with Microsoft as a way to differentiate itself from competitors such as Red Hat which has so far publicly rejected a similar settlement with Microsoft. Novell claims its closer ties to Redmond enable it to more closely integrate with Windows.