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A recently released study by Forrester Research, Linux Crosses Into Mission-Critical Apps, shows Linux is now widely considered mainstream at some of the largest companies in North America.

For years, Linux was introduced at many companies in the skunkworks of an IT department. These tended to be unsponsored projects or prototypes to encourage consideration of the platform. Now that all levels of business have seen the reliability and scalability of Linux and applications such as Apache, MySQL and others, Linux does not necessarily have to be deployed in the shadows.

In that survey, Forrester Analysts Brad Day and Laura Koetzle interviewed more than 100 companies, half of whom report more than $1 billion US in revenues and account for more than 5000 employees each. The survey also found more than half had Linux deployed in production, running servers for web hosting, mail as well as critical back office functions such as crm and data management.

As with many technology trends, widespread adoption begins only after billions have been spent by the world’s larger companies in research, development and deployment. IBM’s massive investments in Linux and open source is often credited for pushing corporate IT into serious evaluations of Linux.

The study revealed that more than a third of the respondents are choosing new solutions that require Linux, rather than the conventional thinking that large companies use Linux to port old legacy applications to new technology platforms.

This is insightful for web developers of all stripes. As “buy-in” is found at the highest levels, this adds additional credibility to Linux solutions for web-based application solutions at small and medium business levels. Those who may be hesitant to take a gamble with Linux and/or open source solutions may turn more receptive to the idea as they see public statistics showing wider adoption for critical applications.

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