IDC researchers predict that spending on the Linux ecosystem will rise from $21 billion in 2007 to more than $49 billion in 2011, driven by rising enterprise deployments of Linux server operating systems.
Linux server deployments are expanding from infrastructure-oriented applications to more commercially oriented database and enterprise resource-planning workloads "that historically have been the domain of Microsoft Windows and Unix," noted IDC analysts in a white paper commissioned by the nonprofit Linux Foundation.
"The early adoption of Linux was dominated by infrastructure-oriented workloads, often taking over those workloads from an aging Unix server or Windows NT 4.0 server that was being replaced," according to the report's authors, Al Gillen, Elaina Stergiades and Brett Waldman. These days, however, Linux is increasingly being "viewed as a solution for wider and more critical business deployments."
According to IDC, total software revenue on the Linux platform amounts to $10 billion today, or 4 percent of an overall total of $242 billion. "That share is expected to grow to more than 9 percent by 2011, or $31 billion in Linux-related software revenue in a total market that will grow to $330 billion," the analysts said.
IDC projects spending on software related to Linux server platforms between 2006 and 2011 will rise at a compound annual growth rate of 35.7 percent -- even as the overall spending on Linux software, hardware and services increases at a projected 24.1 percent clip.
"The growth of Linux as a platform for business-oriented workloads appears to be coming largely from migration of existing Unix deployments in combination with organic growth of Linux deployments in these same workload areas," the study's authors observed.
Government, financial services, and general services users are "highly likely" to move to Linux as a replacement for existing Unix servers, IDC researchers said. "Other industries have a lower likelihood of selecting Linux as a replacement for existing Unix server installations, but still remain as friendly to Linux as an alternative solution as they are to other migration options," the report said.
IDC also expects Linux to continue applying competitive pressures on other major server operating environments, including Windows and Unix. "Each of these three platforms has a well-established installed base and will survive over the long term, but market expansion and platform-to-platform migrations, particularly Unix migrations, will continue to be hotly contested by Linux and by Windows," the researchers predicted.
Growing the Kernel
The growing importance of Linux to big business is also evident from the results of yet another report from the Linux Foundation. Every Linux kernel is being developed by nearly 1,000 developers working for more than 100 different corporations, with 70 to 95 percent of those developers being paid for their work, the authors of the report noted.
Even better, a significant increase is taking place with respect to the number of companies supporting kernel development. Major companies such as IBM, Intel, MIPS Technology, MontaVista, NetApp, Novell, Red Hat and more are finding that by improving the kernel, they have a competitive edge in their markets.
The data presented in the studies shows that Linux has significant momentum, said Linux Foundation spokesperson and report co-author Amanda McPherson.
"Not surprisingly, market momentum -- as shown in the IDC report -- is reflected in the developer numbers growing so fast," McPherson noted. "One could also make the observation that the developer momentum and growth in community is translating into market expansion."