A blog for the enterprise open source community
CAOS 8, our community Linux report is outJay Lyman, July 30, 2008 @ 6:00 pm ET
Timed perfectly (and somewhat coincidentally) between OSCON and LinuxWorld, we’ve just published our latest CAOS report, ‘The Rise of Community Linux.’ Sounds like the community distros are ready to take over the world. Well, not exactly. However, we found significant and increasing use of community Linux distributions such as CentOS, Debian and Ubuntu (which although distributed by Canonical we still considered a community Linux because of its development community and availability in server form).
After speaking to and reporting on various Linux vendors — in servers, embedded, mobile sectors and around the globe in geography — we realized we were continually referring to the pricing, support and general competitive pressures on paid Linux business from unpaid, community and DIY Linux distributions. The significance of these Linux options, and more precisely their cumulative effect, was confirmed in our discussions with Linux vendors and enterprise users.
We believe it is valid for commercial Linux companies and others to refer to community Linux distributions as catalysts and contributors to growth. After all, whether it is using CentOS and supporting it on its own or using RHEL via paid subscription to Red Hat, it’s another Linux user that means a greater ecosystem, pressure to support Linux on hardware vendors, ISVs, SIs, etc. and more open source participation (I just wrote about the significance of customers and end users).
At the same time, we believe increased use of community Linux distributions, helped along by support and credibility from large vendors such as HP and Sun Microsystems, is having an impact on the enterprise Linux market. First, it is contributing to a fragmentation in the market where Linux users have more options, not only for distributions but also for commercial support. Second, more community Linux use puts support pressure on vendors that must differentiate their Linux offerings and subscriptions. Third, the increased community Linux also creates some pricing pressure since these versions are free. Certainly, most large enterprise organizations still require the assurance of an established vendor and Red Hat and Novell with SUSE remain the most popular choices. However, we found organizations are using community Linux similarly to how they’ve historically used open source software in general: quietly. Some organizations, particularly outside of the U.S., are also adjusting and changing their IT procurement practices and policies to include community Linux distributions.
While community Linux is contributing to more Linux use and growing the market for paid, commercially-supported Linux, the impact of the community distributions will also grow as they are used more by IT organizations of all sizes, and this means greater challenges to today’s Linux incumbents.
Stay tuned to CAOS for word about our coming webcast on this report.
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