Gartner says 15 percent of Asian companies run Linux

Linux adoption in the Asia-Pacific region has grown significantly in the last year, with 15 percent of the region's companies having servers that run on Linux, according to a Gartner Inc. survey of 850 corporations in Asia.

The number of current Linux users has been growing rapidly. In September, about 13 percent of companies in Asia were Linux users, compared to about only 6 percent to 7 percent one year ago, said Phil Sargeant, Sydney-based research director for servers and storage at Gartner.

Continued Linux growth in the region will depend on the types of applications that are made available for the Linux platform, Sargeant said. As more "sizable software organizations are putting their weight behind Linux, with more applications for Linux," there might be greater Linux adoption, he said.

Although most of the attraction to Linux appears to be based on its low cost, there are other factors that companies must consider. "An operating system doesn't run itself, so you need to get applications and support. So, what's perceived to be cheap, might not be as cheap" Sargeant said.

Linux is also attractive for those looking for an alternative to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system. "Some people just hate Microsoft, although in reality, there might be a bit of a backlash in looking for an alternative," Sargeant said, adding that the real cost of software goes into the on-going support and development required for the software.

"Nobody owns Linux, so there are concerns about its continued development and how it can be supported over the longer term," he said.

According to Gartner, the momentum behind Linux has been particularly strong in China and South Korea. Government initiatives to build up the domestic software industry is a major reason for increasing Linux adoption in China, Gartner said.

However, in some of the more mature IT countries in the region, such as Australia, Linux adoption has not been as popular because companies in these markets tend to look at factors such as availability and support of applications, "elements which less mature IT markets tend not to look so carefully at," Sargeant said.

Currently, Linux is used mainly for low-level applications, such as file sharing, and Web and e-mail applications, Sargeant said. Not having more major business applications running on Linux in addition to those already available from Oracle Corp. or SAP AG will impede the growth of Linux, he said.

According to the Gartner report, Windows is the most widely used enterprise operating system in the region, with Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris, the second most commonly used operating system, ranked as the only Unix operating system more widely installed than Linux, which ranked third.

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