Study: Red Hat Benefiting from MS-Novell Deal Fallout

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-07-23 Print this article Print

Alfresco's survey of 10,000 users finds Red Hat adoption tripling, while Novell usage stays stagnant.

A global survey of open-source enterprise users of Alfresco software has found that deployments of Red Hat Linux have grown twice as fast as those for Novell SUSE Linux since Novell signed its controversial patent and interoperability agreement with Microsoft in November 2006. Alfresco Software, an open-source enterprise content management provider, surveyed more than 10,000 of its community members between March and June, and will release the findings July 23 in a report titled "The Alfresco Open Source Barometer."
An executive summary and complete survey results are available here.
"What weve seen is that Alfrescos content community is growing in a true hockey stick fashion, with the ratio of new members each month exceeding that of the previous month," said Ian Howells, Alfrescos chief marketing officer, who conducted the survey and analyzed the data. "From March to May, for example, the rate of new members joining the Alfresco community rose by more than 130 percent month-on-month," he said. "The number of those new users with Red Hat Linux nearly tripled over that period, while the number of Novell SUSE Linux users remained relatively static. This suggests that customers may increasingly not like the terms of the Microsoft-Novell deal, especially as more information becomes public." While Alfresco did not specifically ask community members the reason for their Linux choice, the findings are "not a coincidence and, while we cant be certain, customer unhappiness with the Novell-Microsoft deal is probably the most likely reason for that," Howells said. "There was also a backlash against Microsoft about its patent position during this time." Microsoft recently said it is not talking to Red Hat about intellectual property cooperation. Click here to read more. The surveys findings can also be extrapolated to the broader open-source software industry and are not limited to those enterprise customers using Alfresco software "because of the wide range of open-source and proprietary software use cases captured and the large sample size of the survey," Howells said. "We think these findings accurately reflect the broad technology trends across modern stacks in organizations of all sizes." Gallup polls about U.S. presidential candidates typically survey about 1,000 likely voters, while Alfresco surveyed more than 10,000 people, he said. The report also shows that while Windows is an increasingly popular evaluation platform for open-source software, most enterprises use Linux when they go into production. "Windows plays an increasingly important role in testing and evaluation because it is the operating system found on most desktops," Howells said. Since there is not a large sales force for open-source software in comparison to the larger proprietary software vendors, users need to be able to discover, try and buy the software without actually talking to the vendor, he said. Alfresco moved from a Mozilla-style license to the GPL. Click here to read why. "So the first experience is phenomenally important, and the first experience for most users is going to be downloading the software onto their laptop and trying it out, which is why the Windows platform is very important. But the installation process and the ability to get users running and productive is equally important," he said. Alfresco has more than 300 paying customers globally, many of which are large, global 2000 organizations, including Electronic Arts, the European Commission, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, Kaplan, NASA, Rayleys and several of the worlds largest financial services companies, Howells said. Next Page: U.S. leads open-source adoption.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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