The overall market revenue for Linux desktops, servers and packaged software will exceed $35bn by 2008, research published today has claimed.
According to an IDC study commissioned by the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), the server market for shipments and redeployments with Linux increased by 36 per cent in 2004.
The report also predicts revenue growth for packaged applications and infrastructure software running on Linux.
IDC describes this as a "market opportunity" that will exceed $14bn in the next four years, growing at a 2003-2008 compound annual rate of more than 44 per cent.
"This is the first authoritative and comprehensive snapshot of how people truly use Linux, and it is not surprising for us to see that the adoption is far ahead of even some of the most optimistic estimates," said Stuart Cohen, chief executive at OSDL.
In addition, the combined worldwide market for desktops, servers and packaged software running on Linux is forecast to grow at a 2003-2008 compound annual growth rate of 25.9 per cent worldwide, reaching $35.7bn by 2008.
The analyst firm predicts that new and redeployed PCs running Linux is a market forecast to grow to $10bn and 17 million units by 2008, with an installed base of over 42.6 million units.
Servers running Linux as either a primary or secondary operating system is a market forecast to exceed $11bn and 3.3 million units by 2008, with an installed base of more than 9.7 million units.
"When all manifestations of Linux operating systems are counted, Linux is clearly a mainstream solution," said Vernon Turner, group vice president and general manager of enterprise computing research at IDC.
"IDC sees a shift where Linux server operating environment deployments are moving to favour the use of enterprise server hardware.
"This transition is being driven by the increasing robustness of Linux and the increasingly critical nature of the applications deployed on Linux."
The study presents a measurement of shipments and the installed base of servers and PCs running Linux that takes into consideration Linux shipped with new hardware deliveries, running aboard redeployed systems, and used as a guest operating system.
A PDF summary of the IDC report is available on the OSDL website here.
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