More than half of IT executives are planning to accelerate Linux adoption in 2009, according to recent research by Novell and analyst firm IDC.
The global economic downturn may not be good news for most companies, but it has spurred increasing interest in open source, and Linux-based operating systems in particular, the report revealed.
A survey of over 300 senior IT professionals from organisations with more than 100 people found that nearly three quarters (72 per cent) are either actively evaluating, or have already decided to increase, their adoption of Linux on the server this year, and more than two thirds (68 per cent) made the same claim for the desktop.
Respondents highlighted demands to cut spending and support costs as the biggest factors driving the migration to Linux. More than four out of 10 plan to add additional workloads onto Linux-based systems over the next year or two years, and half intend to make Linux their primary server platform within five years.
Those reluctant to move to the open source operating system cited a lack of application support, and poor interoperability with Windows and other environments, as their primary concerns.
"The feedback gleaned from this survey confirms our belief that, as organisations fight to cut costs and find value in this tough economic climate, Linux adoption will accelerate," said Markus Rex, general manager and senior vice president for open platform solutions at Novell.
"Companies also told us that strengthening Linux application support, interoperability, virtualisation capabilities and technical support will all fuel adoption even more."
The retail industry showed the greatest potential for increased Linux adoption, with 63 per cent of respondents planning an increase on the desktop and 69 per cent on the server.
However, despite many governments pledging greater investment and adoption of open source technologies, the report found the public sector lagging behind other areas.
Interestingly, nearly half of respondents stated that moving to virtualisation is accelerating their adoption of Linux, and the vast majority plan to evaluate, deploy or increase their use of virtualisation software within Linux operating systems over the coming years.
"Economic downturns have the tendency to accelerate emerging technologies, boost the adoption of effective solutions, and punish solutions that are not cost competitive," said Al Gillen, programme vice president of system software at IDC.
"This survey confirms that Linux users view it favourably, and this view places Linux in a competitive position to emerge from this downturn as a stronger solution."
However, a separate study by analyst firm Ovum suggests that, despite the growing adoption of Linux for servers and desktops, the same cannot be said for laptops.
This is particularly true when it comes to netbooks, which were originally seen as a perfect opportunity for the wide-scale rollout of Linux-based operating systems, but it seems that users are more comfortable with the familiar Windows environment.
All is not lost, though, according to Ovum's Netbooks: a Linux appliance opportunity report. The study highlights Google's open source Android mobile operating system as a potential focus for Linux vendors, which should push netbooks as an appliance rather than an alternative to Windows netbooks and laptops.