Back to article
The Yin and Yang of Open Source Commerce, Part 2
Estimating the Global Number of Servers
November 2, 2005
In Part 1 of this article, attempts were made to identify the total potential market in respect of the number of individual consumers as well as the business consumer market. Part 2 makes use of the statistics available in an attempt to better identify sub-markets that can are feasible for rapid growth of commercial Linux.
The total number of servers installed globally can be estimated based on some insider market statistics. The values can be compared against IDC Market Research Information, however the comparison fails by a factor of two because of a significant use of computers that are sold as workstations that are actually used as servers in the <20 and 20-99 employee market segments (see Table 1). When the estimated use of workstations that function as servers is removed, the installed server base compares favorably with the IDC estimate of 21 million machines sold as servers [IDC Report: World-wide Client and Server Operating Environments Forecast and Analysis, 2002-2006: Al Gillen, Table 6].
Estimates of the installed desktop, laptop, and network client computer systems are difficult to obtain with accuracy. Based on various estimates, including the number of user licenses sold as claimed by vendors such as Microsoft, the total number of client and stand-alone systems is between 350-600 million. The real number is probably at the lower end of this estimate, given that a part of this sold infrastructure is clearly obsolete and that some licenses account for purchase of replacement systems.
Market demographics can be used to bring into question the behavior of the information technology industry as a whole. It also leads to a plethora of questions regarding the wisdom of the current commercial Linux businesses in their choice of target markets.