IDC Sees Double-Digit Growth Continuing for Linux

Linux server growth will continue at its fast pace well into the future, according to IDC.

Gartner Inc. says Linux is becoming big business, and rival research house IDC agrees.

Specifically, IDC sees worldwide Linux server customer revenue reaching $9.1 billion in 2008, driven by a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 22.8 percent, compared with the broad market CAGR of 3.8 percent for the worldwide server market.

Further, the research company forecasts that Linux server shipments will be 25.7 percent of worldwide server shipments in 2008, up from 15.6 percent of worldwide server shipments in 2003.

In its latest server Insight report, "Linux Servers Shipping in Many Form Factors to Take On New Workloads," IDC analysts noted that Linux is moving from edge services, like Web serving, to such enterprise workloads as hosting applications and databases.

"In the past few years, we have seen an increasing number of organizations adopt and deploy Linux for the basic infrastructure workloads, in part driven by their focus to reduce overall IT acquisition costs," said Jessica Yang, research analyst of Modular Server Solutions at IDC, in a statement.

"More recently, customers are beginning to consider Linux servers for databases and other enterprise applications. We will see the Linux server platform become more diverse and take on more workloads over time as Linux server adoption broadens," Lang said.

This, in turn, is fueling a market transition. According to IDC, the annual growth rate of Linux server unit shipments has increased over the last three years from 15 percent in the second quarter of 2001 to 40 percent in the second quarter of 2004. This trend of moving enterprise workloads onto Linux server platforms is being boosted by the release of commercial enterprise Linuxes, such as RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and Novell Inc.s SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server), which are based on the Linux 2.6 kernel.

This kernel supports scalable servers and has strong support from enterprise middleware players, like Oracle, and by the ability of Linux servers to take on stronger roles as database engines for multitiered computing infrastructure.

At the same time, the hardware of Linux servers, according to IDC research, has been changing. So it is that today dual-processor systems are the predominant form factor, followed by uniprocessors and four-processor systems.

Linux is also dominating the worldwide server blade market in unit shipments with about 50 percent of the market. Linux is shipping on 20 percent of all rack-optimized servers and 11 percent of all stand-alone servers.

What all this means is that "customers will be able to deploy Linux workloads on scaled-out clusters of small Linux servers, on Linux servers with larger form factors, or in partitions of high-end enterprise scalable servers," according Jean Bozman, vice president, enterprise computing at IDC.


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