Linux adoption in the Asia-Pacific region has grown significantly in the last year, with 15% of the region’s companies having servers that run on Linux, according to a Gartner survey of 850 organisations in Asia.
The number of current Linux users has been growing rapidly. In September, about 13% of companies in Asia were Linux users, compared to about only 6% to 7% one year ago, says Gartner Sydney-based servers and storage research director Phil Sargeant.
Continued Linux growth in the region will depend on the types of applications that are made available for the Linux platform, Sargeant says. As more “sizable software organisations are putting their weight behind Linux, with more applications for Linux,” there might be greater Linux adoption, he says.
Although most of the attraction to Linux appears to be based on its low cost, there are other factors companies must consider. “An operating system doesn’t run itself, so you need to get applications and support. What’s perceived to be cheap might not be as cheap.”
Linux is also attractive for those looking for an alternative to Microsoft’s Windows operating system. “Some people just hate Microsoft, although in reality, there might be a bit of a backlash in looking for an alternative,” Sargeant says, adding that the real cost of software goes into the ongoing support and development required for the software.
“Nobody owns Linux, so there are concerns about its continued development and how it can be supported over the longer term.”
According to Gartner, the momentum behind Linux has been particularly strong in China and South Korea. Government initiatives to build up the domestic software industry is a major reason for increasing Linux adoption in China, Gartner says.
However, in some of the more mature IT countries in the region such as Australia, Linux adoption has not been as popular. Companies in these markets tend to look at factors such as availability and support of applications, “elements which less mature IT markets tend not to look so carefully at,” Sargeant says.
Currently, Linux is used mainly for low-level applications, such as file sharing and web and email applications, Sargeant says. For Linux usage to grow in the region, large-scale database deployments and financial-type applications have to be developed. Not having large types of applications such as those from Oracle or SAP running on Linux will impede its growth, he says.
According to the Gartner report, Windows is the most widely used enterprise operating system in the region, with Sun’s Solaris, the second most commonly used operating system, ranked as the only Unix operating system more widely installed than Linux, which ranked third.