IBM seems to be following in Microsofts footsteps. On Tuesday, IBM held a roundtable conference call to highlight the findings of two recent Linux research reports it had sponsored.
The issue of sponsored research has long been a controversial one, with Microsoft coming under fire for its "Get the Facts" campaign, which largely uses Microsoft sponsored research to compare the advantages of using Windows Server over Linux.
Sponsored research has been in the spotlight recently following a story first reported on eWEEK.com that Microsoft had approached the OSDL (Open Source Development Labs) to work on a research project involving analysis of Linux and Windows.
OSDL CEO Stuart Cohen has ruled out any such co-operation between the two companies.
Asked by eWEEK.com if IBMs sponsored research was a response to the Microsoft "Get the Facts" campaign, Scott Handy, the vice president of Worldwide Linux for IBM, said that, while it was not a direct response, "we get a lot of requests from customers for research that gives them the other side, the Linux point of view.
"I firmly believe customers find us [IBM] credible, as we have businesses around Linux, Unix and Windows, and that adds balance," he said.
Handy, who moderated the roundtable discussion, said that the momentum around Linux has continued unabated and that there has been steady growth in the Linux server market over past five years.
"Last quarter there was $1.5 billion in Linux server sales as an industry, with Linux server revenue growing eight times that of the overall server market at 42 percent, versus five percent growth for the total sever market. That growth was also more than four times that of Microsofts Windows Server, which gained 10 percent," Handy said.
The quarterly figures also showed that IBM continued to be the dominant Linux server supplier, continuing to take share on the x86 hardware front, while some 40 percent of its market share came from Linux on Power and the mainframe, Handy said.
"A third of workloads now being deployed on Linux come from Unix, a third from Windows and a third are new installations," Handy said.
While the research reports had been sponsored by IBM, Handy said the methodologies were those of the analyst firms and represented customer interviews and input.
The research report by the Robert Francis Group was released this month and is entitled "TCO for Application Servers: Comparing Linux with Windows and Solaris."
It is an update and extension of a 2002 TCO study that compared Linux to Solaris and Windows, said Chad Robinson, a senior RFG analyst.
"TCO gets a lot of criticism, as these are numbers you can push back and forth, and we believe that based on what weve found, Linux is of significant value to large enterprises," Robinson said.
"We talked to IT executives and their direct reports. But these are companies with large systems and lots of IT staff, so you need to bear that in mind."
The study found that the way that people look at Linux in the enterprise is evolving and moving away from a fixation on TCO.
But TCO still remains an important element of short-term and long-term strategic value from their deployments, Robinson added.