LinuxCon Day 2: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: Linux has Arrived.

As a society, we are all about numbers -- How much, how far, how fast. In IT, it is all a numbers game. Teraflops to compare computing power, TPC results to compare databases, analyst numbers to compare penetration -- We are all about the numbers. And as a wise man once said, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. And after sitting through not one but two presentations about the numbers, I am more convinced than ever that numbers are best left to the accountants.

With that being said, the numbers presented, both by Forrester Research's Jeffery Hammond and IDC's Al Gillen, show the same picture when it comes to Linux and Open Source. To quote Jeff Hammond, When it comes to Enterprise IT adoption, Open Source has “Crossed the Chasm”. Open Source software is no longer the hidden tool in the works, where penetration is reported higher by developers and IT people than management. In fact, in a number of the surveys conducted by Forrester, management is now reporting higher adoption numbers than those being reported by the folks in the trenches. We are no longer the dirty little secret, whispered about in dark corners when the boss is looking the other way. CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs are touting their companies move to Open Source, not only to the analysts but to each other. And when that starts happening, things start moving.

Europe/US Open Source Adoption, courtesy of Forrester Research
Europe/US Open Source Adoption, courtesy of Forrester Research

But an interesting trend is also occurring. As Open Source is being adopted, when specifically asked if they are going to expand their adoption of Open Source software, most companies are reporting no. While our friends in Redmond would jump all over that statistic, when you drill down into the answer, you find that most no longer have an urgency to adopt Open Source because it has already been adopted. In fact, one startling number is that only 21% of those surveyed have never developed anything on Open Source code. This is remarkable because the surveys were heavily skewed towards Redmond heavy users.

Another interesting outcome is the adoption of the Open Source model in the United States. Again, according to Forrester, Europe, especially France and Germany, have been leading the adoption of the Open Source model, while the United States has lagged far behind. In the latest surveys, the United States is slowly beginning to catch up.

Monty discusses MariaDB
Monty discusses MariaDB

IDC sees this as an industry in transition. Not just in terms of hardware sales, but in light of the economic downturn, most are trying to position themselves to be ready when the economy turns around. This means being even more nimble and responsive. IDC also sees the strength of Open Source as companies position themselves to leap onto the cloud because of the ability to rapidly develop applications, not only for the desktops of today but the desktops of tomorrow.

Forrester agrees with the model that Open Source presents, allowing the Iron Triangle of Cost, Speed, and Integration to be expanded, rather than the traditional trade off of picking just two. This increasing flexibility means a faster time to market at lower costs and easier deployments. All of which are important for companies trying to stay viable in an economy that is dragging everyone down.

John "Mad Dog" Hall shows off some award winning hot sauce

The end result is that Linux, and Open Source, have not only arrived, but we have become a commodity, thought about as much as the server. And while there are many that would argue this is a bad thing, I would argue that if Open Source is implemented as easily as other COTS-based solutions, then we have truly arrived. All of these factors and numbers put together are numbers that I like.

The Boston Skyline from the harbor The Boston Skyline from the harbor


David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack


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Pretty good post. I just

horoscope's picture

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astrologie's picture

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Do not forget the South America

Eduardo's picture

Hi there!

Good to know about the closing gap.

Unfortunately I have no numbers to show up but, this kind of scenery is quite the same from here. A lot of people and companies have been started to use those open software, languages, frameworks and databanks.

kind regards,

South America

David Lane's picture

You raise a good point. Brazil especially is hot on Open Source as evidenced by specialized distributions. The Forrester surveys did not, to my knowledge, include South America, but it would be interesting to see the adoption of Open Source there to flesh out the over all view. Maybe between now and the next LinuxCon we can see if we can get a more global overview of the numbers, not just North America and Europe.

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack

Specialized distributions?

Anonymous's picture

Which specialized distributions? Any BRIC-related buzzword? The latest report from shows that Linux usage in brazilian companies doesn't grow since 2005. OEM? A marginal market which completely relies in a single govt. program.


Doug.Roberts's picture

Thanks for the update, David. The trends look good.