Businesses should embrace Linux or risk losing control of their IT infrastructures by driving the operating system (OS) underground, market analyst GartnerGroup has said.
Speaking at the GartnerGroup's first UK briefing dedicated to the OS last week, Gartner research director Andrew Butler advised businesses to adopt an open Linux strategy. "A lot of organisations see it as a threat," he said.
"They fear Linux represents a free spirit that doesn't gel with their conservative approach. They are nervous about a product that's free and cheap.
"But if they try to suppress interest, they risk subversive proliferation of Linux - which could mean losing control of the IT infrastructure."
The biggest driver of Linux adoption identified by Gartner is a low initial cost, followed by reliability and up-time, low ongoing cost of operations and few bugs. Looking for a Microsoft alternative is usually last on the list.
"Ease of purchase and deployment exacerbates the problem creating hotbeds of enthusiasm over Linux," said Butler. "Our message is: don't be scared. Evaluate Linux as you would Windows 2000 or Unix, and plan how best it should be deployed."
Butler said Unix users should assign in-house programmers and LAN integrators to deploy Linux in appliance services such as proxy, cache, firewall, mail and intranets. Users with a risk-averse strategy should, however, "avoid major commitments to Linux this year", he said.
He urged businesses to establish roles for the OS, drive high-level buy-ins, plan and use resources, skills and cost, delegate Linux project leaders, understand distributor strategies and assess vendor support and service. "You should use Linux to apply pressure on Microsoft in negotiating licensing costs and services," Butler said.
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