Linux is being adopted by organisations as a means of leverage against Microsoft in contract negotiations, but as a result, it is difficult to establish exactly who is using it or how many.
This ?anything but Microsoft? trend does not imply a backlash against Big Green or that customers do not want to deploy its products, but indicates that they are afraid of the software giant?s hold over them if they go for a Microsoft-only strategy.
These were the findings of a panel discussion dubbed ?Linux: the Windows alternative? at the Comdex show in Las Vegas today.
It was also difficult to establish how many people were using Linux, according to Dan Kusnetzky, programme director of operating environments and serverware at IDC, because the business decision makers often were not aware that the opensource operating system (OS) had even been deployed in their organisation.
?Many organisations don?t know that Linux is running because business managers often buy it to solve a problem when they haven?t got any money. They?re praised for getting the job done, but the business decision makers do not know that Linux is being used in the corporation,? he explained.
He continued: ?Where you do find business decision makers have bought Linux, in many cases it was their VARs that said buy this, so they have and they?re happy with it." "But to be accepted as a mainstream OS, the Linux community needs to present the grand vision, so that Dilbert?s boss knows about it. Otherwise he?ll feel it?s an unsafe and untested environment,? he claimed.
Kusnetsky added that the market was in danger of fragmenting in the same way that Unix had unless it pulled together as an entity and targetted Dilbert?s boss as the most important IT purchaser.
?Perception is more important than reality and if the Linux community exposes disharmony in development or anything else, others such as Microsoft will jump on this and say the market is in chaos. It needs to present a show of harmony in innovation and standards rather than publically fight against itself,? he added.
In the short-term, however, the OS was most likely to be deployed in specialised devices and servers rather than for use with mainstream applications. It was also being introduced into companies for integration purposes and by small businesses because they could pick it up for as little as $59.
According to Caldera Software, Linux was expected to be running 2.4 million servers by 2001 and about 50 per cent of sales were to new customers, buying it as an alternative to Novell?s Netware, Intel-based Unixes such as the Santa Cruz Operation?s or to Windows NT.
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