Editor's note: Exactly how large is the Linux market?
Study partially sponsored by Microsoft
Exactly how many Linux servers are being sold and used? It all depends on which market-research firm you subscribe to, as surveys from the Gartner Group, IDC, and AllNetResearch report dramatically differing estimates of the Linux market.
Late last month the Gartner Group released a survey of Linux system sales, and its conclusions were that Linux accounted for 8.6 percent of all server sales in 2000, with growth to approximately 10 percent of the server market in 2001. Gartner estimates that Red Hat is involved with the vast majority of these shipments -- upwards of 93 percent -- which are most prevalent in external Web, internal Web, and infrastructure server situations.
Gartner included both nonbranded (so-called white-box server purchases) and branded (i.e., Dell, Compaq, VA Linux) server purchases in its research. When the figures were broken down at this level, Gartner estimated that the Linux market share among all branded-server purchases was 6 percent in the third quarter of 2000.
Gartner analyst Jeff Hewitt based his estimates on a survey of IT professionals, with 724 completed surveys. Respondents were asked what percentage of their server purchases consisted of Linux servers. One note that may tinge public perception of the study: it was partially sponsored by Microsoft.
The numbers directly contradict market research from IDC's Dan Kusnetzky, who estimates that Linux represents 27 percent of the total server market. Kusnetzky may be a little overoptimistic about exactly how Linux is distributed -- he estimates that a single freely downloaded disk may be replicated up to 15 times, leading to a tremendously high passalong rate. In addition, Kusnetzky is attempting to estimate the entire size of the Linux market, not analyze sales of new systems.
The numbers reported by IDC's Kusnetzky echo research from internet.com's AllNetResearch, which found in a 2001 survey of that 39 percent of the respondents reporting that they are already using Linux, with another 31 percent currently exploring Linux usage. (internet.com owns the LinuxPlanet Web site.) Again, the AllNetResearch research report estimated the existing installed base and did not attempt to track sales on a quarterly basis.