The rush to low-cost Linux servers may be slowing as companies head into the new year.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

January 3, 2003

2 Min Read

The rush to low-cost Linux servers may be slowing as companies head into the new year.

Just over a quarter of the 300 business-technology managers polled in InformationWeek Research's Outlook 2003 survey say Linux servers are a priority this year, compared with 39% last year. Windows servers, against which Linux boxes compete, were cited by 80%, up from 67% last year. Unix servers also dipped, with 46% of respondents citing them this year.

So is it time for a victory lap in Redmond?

Not just yet, says Stuart Robbins, founder and executive director of the CIO Collective, a nonprofit organization representing 70 CIOs. The pace of adoption may have slowed, but Robbins predicts that the use and stature of Linux will continue to grow this year. "You'd be surprised how many mission-critical applications are running on Linux that aren't publicly known," he says.

SERVER SHOWDOWN CHARTWhile the drop in interest in Linux is one of the most striking of all the technologies looked at in the Outlook 2003 study, it's part of a broad decline in the number of technologies that managers put on their priority lists.

The rap on Linux is that there aren't enough business applications written for it, support and staff knowledge can be spotty, and managers aren't ready to trust vital tasks to it. An InformationWeek Research survey last year found 80% of Linux shops used it to serve Web pages, but less than a third used it to run enterprise software.

Atefeh Riazi, CIO and senior partner of Ogilvy & Mathers Worldwide, doubts that unreliable reputation will stick. Ogilvy & Mathers will continue this year to migrate off its few remaining Microsoft NT servers and onto Linux, which is the company's platform for Internet, security, and customer applications.

The advertising company will also develop a digital asset-management system on Linux, which will let it better manage its customers' advertising content and send large files, such as advertising videos and banners, that currently are sent to customers by FedEx or an outside file service. "We've moved beyond R&D on Linux," Riazi says. "It's a robust, reliable, and cost-effective platform."

Linux is clearly winning converts. But Microsoft's popularity in the business-computing market shows little sign of weakening. Want more proof? Windows XP is on the priority lists of just over half of business-technology managers, up from barely a third at the beginning of last year.

InformationWeek Research's Outlook and Priorities studies provide an early indicator of companies' business and technology plans for the immediate quarter and the year ahead.

Illustration by Joyce Hesselberth

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