Technical and support fears are holding back enterprise adoption of Linux, according to AMR Research.
The analyst's Linux: Creeping into the Enterprise report suggested that companies perceive Linux as still not suited to mission-critical applications.
AMR interviewed senior IT managers in 15 US companies with an average turnover of more than $1bn.
"Primarily the companies interviewed were not ready," said report author Allison Bacon. "Technically Linux can [run mission-critical applications] but it has a lot to do with support. It depends if they can support it in-house."
She explained that companies are still worried about the scalability of the operating system, and its ability to run software such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications.
But as very large scale Linux deployments increase - such as Unilever's plan to move its entire global infrastructure including ERP to Linux - the caution is really a matter of perception, according to Bacon.
This was also the view of Mark Blowers, senior researcher at UK-based analyst Butler Group.
"Perception lags behind what open source provides. It is moving very quickly. Some still see it only as freeware you download from the internet," he said.
The AMR report identified three main Linux benefits: cheaper software licensing and maintenance; cheaper hardware; and greater reliability compared with proprietary general purpose operating systems.
The analyst cited one company claiming a 30 per cent saving on maintenance because Linux stability meant fewer upgrades, patches and scheduled re-boots.
AMR said that Linux should be considered for non-mission-critical applications where cost and reliability are critical factors, adding that corporate policies should be refined with guidelines for evaluating and using open source software.
Blowers explained that Linux's greater reliability stemmed from its wide peer review that contrasted with proprietary alternatives.
This indicates that it is more suitable for mission-critical use, but Blowers added: "It lacked the tools, management and utilities bundled into AIX and Solaris and tested on the hardware."
This, he said, is being addressed by software vendors.
Despite none of the companies interviewed having yet implemented enterprise-wide Linux, the report describes them as "early adopters".
Bacon said this meant that Linux is deployed in more than just pockets in these companies.
She added that the interviewees also felt challenged trying to sell Linux to senior management, while there is also more conservatism towards open source in the US than in some other countries.
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