April 6, 2005

Who said you can't get hard numbers on use of open source software?

Author: Chris Preimesberger

I'm covering the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco this week, and holy cow, there are a lot of bright people gathered here. Men (and a smattering of women) with doctorates, people who've made millions of dollars by simply thinking up good ideas for software and hardware, people who get paid very well
Chris Preimesberger

to give other people advice, etc. You know the crowd.

Yet, I keep hearing from these data-loaded folks that it is exceedingly difficult to quantify the use of open source software in enterprises large and small -- and up and down the system stack. This seems to me to be a fundamental problem when it comes to understanding the market. And is not the IT market what we're all about?

So much open source-ware is freely downloadable, re-engineered, freely shared, and freely copied that it is simply impossible to know exactly how far this brave new world of software development has moved into the big leagues of business. Several industry analysts, including IDC's respected Dan Kuznetsky, said as much: As best as they can determine, Linux owns between 20 and 23 percent of the enterprise server market, with Microsoft the leader at 55 percent, with Unix and everybody else comprising the final 22 to 25 percent.

However, in at least one major category, quantification of a kind of open source server software is not a problem whatsoever. Netcraft this week released an exhaustive survey on the Web server market; this one's about as complete as you can get when it comes to open source software information. The survey included responses from exactly 62,286,451 sites out of a grand total of about 640 million -- give or take a few million.

As you might expect, the open source Apache Web Server is dominant here, being used for 43,174,442 sites. Microsoft IIS servers run 12,735,173 sites, Netscape-Enterprise 1,856,780, and so on down the line. The Sun-One Web server was way down the list at only 19,137 sites.

Oh, the joy of exactitude.

For more details, see this Server Watch article.

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