Study: Red Hat Benefiting from MS-Novell Deal Fallout


A global survey of open-so­urce enterprise users of Alfresco software has found that deployments of Red Hat Linux have grown twice as fast as those for Novell SUSE Linux since Novell signed its controversial patent and interoperability agreement with Microsoft in November 2006.

Alfresco Software, an open-source enterprise content management provider, surveyed more than 10,000 of its community members between March and June, and will release the findings July 23 in a report titled "The Alfresco Open Source Barometer."

An executive summary and complete survey results are available here.

"What we've seen is that Alfresco's content community is growing in a true 'hockey stick' fashion, with the ratio of new members each month exceeding that of the previous month," said Ian Howells, Alfresco's chief marketing officer, who conducted the survey and analyzed the data.

"From March to May, for example, the rate of new members joining the Alfresco community rose by more than 130 percent month-on-month," he said. "The number of those new users with Red Hat Linux nearly tripled over that period, while the number of Novell SUSE Linux users remained relatively static. This suggests that customers may increasingly not like the terms of the Microsoft-Novell deal, especially as more information becomes public."

While Alfresco did not specifically ask community members the reason for their Linux choice, the findings are "not a coincidence and, while we can't be certain, customer unhappiness with the Novell-Microsoft deal is probably the most likely reason for that," Howells said. "There was also a backlash against Microsoft about its patent position during this time."

The survey's findings can also be extrapolated to the broader open-source software industry and are not limited to those enterprise customers using Alfresco software "because of the wide range of open-source and proprietary software use cases captured and the large sample size of the survey," Howells said. "We think these findings accurately reflect the broad technology trends across modern stacks in organizations of all sizes." Gallup polls about U.S. presidential candidates typically survey about 1,000 likely voters, while Alfresco surveyed more than 10,000 people, he said.

The report also shows that while Windows is an increasingly popular evaluation platform for open-source software, most enterprises use Linux when they go into production.

"Windows plays an increasingly important role in testing and evaluation because it is the operating system found on most desktops," Howells said.

Since there is not a large sales force for open-source software in comparison to the larger proprietary software vendors, users need to be able to discover, try and buy the software without actually talking to the vendor, he said.

"So the first experience is phenomenally important, and the first experience for most users is going to be downloading the software onto their laptop and trying it out, which is why the Windows platform is very important. But the installation process and the ability to get users running and productive is equally important," he said.

Alfresco has more than 300 paying customers globally, many of which are large, global 2000 organizations, including Electronic Arts, the European Commission, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, Kaplan, NASA, Rayley's and several of the world's largest financial services companies, Howells said.