Linux for the SMB market: slow, steady or both?

Companies offering Linux solutions are reporting some successes in the hard-to-crack small and medium business market

Everywhere you turn nowadays, another company is targeting the Small and Medium Business (SMB) marketplace. SMBs are growing, and represent a segment of the IT market that has not been fully exploited by many, including open source software vendors that boasted early successes with large enterprises.

However, as vendors have learned, there have been obstacles to penetrating the SMB space. SMBs are reluctant to taking a chance on an open source solution in what has become a Microsoft market. They want IT solutions that are easy to install, configure, and maintain. The full penetration by open source software vendors is sluggish, but it's moving.

Nearly three years ago, AMI Partners researched the Linux penetration into the SMB marketplace. According to their research, Linux had penetrated about a fourth of all companies with 100 to 249 employees. The greatest concentration of Linux users was found in the businesses services industry. In fact, many SMBs who do use Linux and open source software are in the IT industry and already familiar with open source solutions and their configuration and maintenance. Resellers are integrating open source solutions into their offerings to the SMB marketplace accordingly.

The IT firm Avocent, a maker of management products including KVM and serial console equipment, has continued to build a business strategy intended to capitalize on the SMB marketplace. They introduced a new Linux server management product developed specifically for the SMB market.

"Small businesses are looking to save money on technology," says Kamini Rupani, a product director with Avocent. "In a time of tightened licensing, escalating software costs, relative to total costs, and low initial costs of Linux and its cadre of tools, SMBs are looking at the strategy of considering open-source software. Linux is well suited for a smaller organization because it scales incrementally without large initial cash outlays. SMBs can tailor their enterprises to better fit their needs with Linux."

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