IDC: Linux Growing into Billion-Dollar Market

Aug 20, 2009

Market researcher IDC predicts that Linux will continue steady growth over the next five years, reaching into the billions of dollars in 2012.

IDC analyst Al Gillen sees a bright future for Linux OS.

In a study titled "Worldwide Linux Operating Environment 2009-2013 Forecast: Can Linux Prove Resilience in an Economic Slump," IDC researched the market development of the free operating system under current pressures. Al Gillen, program VP for the study, described the situation: "Commercial Linux came of age during the economic slump of 2001-2002, and now the shoe is on the other foot, as the Linux ecosystem scrambles to adapt to changing market conditions." He sees a bright light in the future: "...the good news is that Linux is almost guaranteed to successfully transition through this difficult time."

He supported his optimism with some statistics: while much of the industry in 2008 stagnated or even receded, Linux revenues grew 23.4% to $567 million. The biggest selling server systems came from Red Hat and Novell, and the analyst saw these as continuing to grow. By IDC's observations many nonpaid Linux deployments also derive from these two major players, and continue to grow despite no revenue. As Gillen writes, "The role of nonpaid Linux continues to be significant in terms of both unit volume and cultivating a larger customer base. This portion of the Linux server operating environment market continues to expand...." The share of business-oriented and mission-critical deployments are also increasing as Linux is seen as gaining in maturity.

John Dragoon, chief marketing officer at Novell, has already perused the study and extracted a few choice numbers from it in his blog: "IDC's projections showing Linux operating systems revenue exceeding $1 billion in 2012 and continuing to grow to $1.2 billion in 2013 is big news indeed." He sees adventure in the competition: "And while Red Hat continues to have the largest share, Novell had a particularly good 2008 growing total Linux operating system revenue by 50.3% from 2007 to 2008." Like the IDC study, he values the growth of virtualization and interoperability as "critical adoption drivers for Linux."

The IDC analyst views the increasing use of virtualization software as an effective way of saving money in hard times, but with a bit of reserve on his part. His final words were somewhat cryptic: "The long-term prognosis for Linux is good, but we see 2009 as a turning point [...] In the end, the markets of tomorrow are going to behave differently than the markets of the past."

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