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The study, based on an October survey of 100 IT managers at large US multinationals, said 39% of respondents had deployed Linux "in some capacity", including the traditional Linux niche of ordinary print/file, e-mail and Web servers and desktop PCs. Surprisingly, they had also deployed Linux for more important tasks in mainframes, data centres, application servers and databases.
However, the study cautions that "Linux will need to prove itself among early adopters before more widescale deployment" in the data centre. Moreover, Linux did not rank as a top priority for respondents, a sign that its adoption would be slow and steady, instead of explosive.
The future looked bright for Linux in the data centre space, as more and more IT managers better understand the cost savings the operating system can yield and as more enterprise software becomes available, according to the study.
In other findings, the study showed that cost cutting is top priority for IT managers, as their budgets are predicted to increase by only 2% or 3% next year.
Most respondents expected IT spending to accelerate again at best during the second half of 2003, and then only if their companies' revenue increases significantly and profitability improves. This indicated that IT spending is tied to macroeconomic improvements, and not so much to compelling technology offerings.
This year, only 3% of respondents said they planned to overspend their IT budget. The rest said they planned to "spend out" their budget (39%), slightly underspend it (53%) or significantly underspend it (4%) by the end of the year.
Other top-ranking priorities for IT managers include application integration, information security and disaster recovery/business continuity. On the other end, lower-ranking IT priorities include managed network services, adoption of the Linux operating system and network convergence of technologies such as voice-over-IP and videoconferencing.
Microsoft, Red Hat, Veritas., IBM and BEA Systems were named as vendors that are gaining share of respondents' software budgets, while Computer Associates International, Novell, Siebel Systems and Oracle emerged as vendors that are losing share.
Respondents included chief information officers, IT directors, chief technology officers and IT managers from companies with annual revenue ranging from below US$1bn to more than $10bn. Respondents worked in a variety of industries, including financial services, communications, manufacturing, government, retail, healthcare and education.