Global survey shows Linux desktop easier to deploy than expected

IBM announced the results of a study conducted by Freeform Dynamics which showed that Linux desktops were easier to implement than IT staff expected if they targeted the right groups of users, such as those who have moderate and predictable use of e-mail and office tools.

The research behind the report, “Linux on the Desktop: Lessons from Mainstream Business Adoption,” was designed, executed and interpreted independently by Freeform Dynamics. Feedback was gathered via an online survey of 1,275 I.T. professionals from the U.K., U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a spread of other countries across Western Europe and the Nordics. Ninety percent of the study’s respondents had direct experience with desktop Linux deployment in their business.

Those with experience of such migrations said that Linux on the desktop was best achieved when it was first targeted to groups of non-technical users. Transaction workers and general professional workers were seen as more than twice as likely to be primary targets for desktop Linux adoption than mobile and creative staff. A majority of the respondents indicated that Linux desktop deployments to these targeted groups was easier than anticipated.

Key statistics of the study include:

  • 71% of respondents indicated cost reduction as their primary driver for adoption.
  • 35% stated the ease of securing the desktop was another primary driver
  • 32% cited the lowering of overheads associated with maintenance and support in general were factors contributing to the benefit of desktop Linux adoption
  • Those with experience of Linux desktop rollouts are 50% more likely to regard non-technical users such as general professional users and transaction workers as primary targets for Linux
  • 58% of those with prior experience of a Linux desktop rollout see general professional users as primary targets
  • 52% of those with prior experience of a Linux desktop rollout see transaction workers as primary targets.
  • 32% of those with prior experience of a Linux desktop rollout see power users as primary targets.
  • 47% of respondents said usability was the main consideration when evaluating or selecting a desktop Linux distribution for use in a business environment.

The study confirmed Linux on the desktop adoption is primarily driven by cost reduction. About twice as many of the respondents cited cost savings over security as the primary driver of why they’d adopt Linux on the desktop. Participants in the study indicated that both environments can be secured adequately — it’s just cheaper to secure a Linux desktop and maintain it that way.

The user groups in the study were defined as:

  • IT operations/support staff
  • General professional users (relatively light and predictable use of e-mail, office tools, etc)
  • Transaction workers (mostly using enterprise applications in a routine prescriptive manner)
  • Other (non-IT) technical staff (e.g. engineers, technical designers/architects)
  • Office based power users (e.g. finance staff, marketing teams, knowledge workers, etc)
  • Highly mobile professional users (e.g. sales, roaming managers, etc)
  • Creative staff (non-engineering, e.g. graphic design).

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