Canonical, the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu Linux, and analyst firm RedMonk have released findings of a survey sent to thousands of Ubuntu users that show usage patterns for the Ubuntu server product.
In an interview with eWEEK about the results of the Ubuntu user survey, Steve George, director of support and services for Canonical, said the survey, completed by nearly 7,000 respondents, shows that Ubuntu is being used in most common workloads, such as Web, file, database and mail server, and is considered “mission-critical” by most respondents.
Indeed, the survey indicates not only that users are primarily using Ubuntu for such common workloads, but also that the security, backup and firewall areas are important workloads being run on Ubuntu, George said.
The survey, which George said is Canonical’s most “in-depth” survey to date, also shows a correlation between these workloads and those that users consider mission-critical. Moreover, to underpin these mission-critical uses, respondents considered simple upgrades, package management, hardware support, proven security and the life cycle of the product as vital to their choice of platform, Canonical officials said. The survey went on to ask about preferred technologies and asked users to share what applications they used on Ubuntu and Linux in their businesses.
Looking to the future, the report asked about what virtualization technologies users were employing and sought opinions about the readiness of cloud computing for the enterprise and about Ubuntu as a platform for cloud computing, George said. Users also strongly indicated their intent to add Ubuntu servers to their data centers in the immediate and long term. In addition, Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Long Term Support) was a clear favorite in terms of platform use.
“We don’t keep a record of who downloads and uses our software, but we do a few surveys each year” to get a sense of what users are doing and what they are looking for, George said. “There is a wealth of organizations using it for enterprise workloads. I think we have been pleasantly surprised by the fact that Ubuntu is making good progress as a server platform.”
George said all the information from the survey as well as input and suggestions from users for tweaks, improvements, bug fixes and new features will be taken into consideration and even discussed at the Ubuntu Development Summit.
Ubuntu on the server is primarily used in Europe and North America, with more than 55 percent of respondents saying they were in Europe and 28 percent in North America.
How Large Enterprises Use Ubuntu
There are some small but significant differences in how large and small businesses use Ubuntu. Larger companies-those with 500 or more servers-use Ubuntu more for clustering, batch processing, systems management and data mining than do smaller companies, but they have more of a requirement for these types of workloads, Canonical said.
There is a small spike of use for larger enterprises using Ubuntu for development and testing. Given that there are free updates and maintenance, a clear upgrade path to a long-term supported platform, and a support model for when the server is needed in production, this makes sense for this type of user.
“Clearly, we have businesses of all sizes using Ubuntu to run what they consider to be mission-critical applications,” George said. “But do they consider Ubuntu to be mission-critical ready, or merely a convenient, and often free, way of running the tools?”
Regarding the two areas users said they are expecting more from Ubuntu in the future-virtualization and cloud computing-George emphasized Ubuntu’s existing capabilities in both areas, with KVM in virtualization and running a version of Ubuntu on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud.
In terms of virtualization, the Ubuntu report based on the survey said:
“The two most popular open-source technologies KVM and Xen are increasingly prominent across all business sizes, which tells an interesting tale in terms of enterprise usage. The quick rise of KVM is important as it indicates that Ubuntu made the right choice to select it as our maintained technology. Ubuntu was the first distribution to make KVM the default fully maintained and supported technology with 8.04 LTS.“
Regarding cloud computing and Ubuntu, the report said:
“Many users think the cloud is ready, they believe Ubuntu would be a good platform for it, but not that many have decided to deploy it yet. That’s not surprising given the maturity levels of the technologies available in the market currently. We believe in Ubuntu as a platform for innovation, and we will be looking at ways of delivering cloud into businesses simply and securely on Ubuntu Server Edition along with explaining how it can provide real value to companies as an infrastructure model.“