Where Is Linux Used in the Enterprise?

New research from Linux vendor SUSE identifies the types of enterprise workloads where Linux is deployed and addresses the issue of vendor lock-in.

The open-source Linux operating system is widely deployed across modern enterprises, and a new study sponsored by enterprise vendor SUSE Linux aims to reveal precisely what workloads Linux is running. The SUSE study asked 167 IT professionals about their usage of Linux in general. Across the survey base, 83 percent indicated that they currently have some form of Linux deployment in their enterprises.

While Linux is a general-purpose operating system that can be used to run any number of applications, some applications are more widely deployed than others. Seventeen percent of respondents noted that they currently run business intelligence applications on Linux, while 14 percent said they use Linux for Web server deployments. Only 6 percent said they currently run an Oracle Database on Linux, and 11 percent indicated they are running a non-Oracle database on Linux.

Taking a forward-looking approach, 76 percent indicated that they plan to run Web servers on Linux, and 63 percent said they plan to run an Oracle Database on Linux. In contrast, 51 percent noted they plan to run a non-Oracle database on Linux. The SUSE survey did not ask respondents about their use of any specific Linux vendor distribution. Oracle has its own Linux distribution that is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

In terms of the criteria that enterprise IT users evaluate when deciding to migrate a mission-critical application to Linux, security is the No. 1 factor, coming in at 61 percent. Total cost of ownership was cited by 46 percent of respondents as being a key criterion, while 44 percent indicated that high availability was a factor for them.

SUSE also asked respondents about their concerns in evaluating Linux as an alternate server platform to Unix. Only 28 percent identified total cost of ownership as an issue, though 46 percent did identify OS vendor service and support as a concern. When it comes to security, 43 percent said it was a concern.


One of the basic cornerstone beliefs of the open-source movement is that by being open, users are not locked in to a particular vendor. When SUSE asked the question, "Do you agree that moving to open-source platforms like Linux will ensure your organization avoids vendor lock-in?" 37 percent of respondents neither agreed nor disagreed, while 5 percent disagreed entirely with the statement. That result didn't surprise SUSE.

"Certain Linux operating systems do lock people in," Joanne Harris, director of campaign and alliance marketing for SUSE, told eWEEK. "The good news is that most people do agree, and we and others work hard to make that perception a reality."

Overall, Harris said that the study had no major surprises.

"It just confirms that Linux is not only ready for the enterprise, but it is performing efficiently and well, running all kinds of workloads and business-critical applications," Harris said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.