On April 8, the Linux Foundation [LF] sponsored the release of some very interesting IDC data on the growth of the software market and other aspects of IT spending through 2011. The previous sentence is worded the way it is because although the white paper in which the data appears is "sponsored by the LF," I do not believe the data within it is based on any separate IDC data gathering. Because there is no methodology section, I believe these are crown-jewel IDC numbers based on the time-honored annual IDC methodology for estimating and forecasting information technology [IT] market sizes. Based on historical patterns, IDC has already released 2012 estimates to clients. But the IT market is an aircraft carrier so newer numbers, if they have been distributed, are unlikely to be substantially different than this iteration.
The two major sets of IDC numbers in the white paper estimate the size of the software market itself and the size of the hardware/software/services markets (the ecoystem) that surrounds various software. A third set of numbers looks at the types of workloads that run on Linux servers.
In juxtaposition with the recent open-source related "findings put out by Gartner," which were more qualitative (at least publicly), the IDC white paper and its conclusions paint an interesting postion of how the IT market will evolve over the next few years. Linux-based solutions will replace UNIX- and other-legacy-based solutions as both the Linux and Microsoft (MSFT) Windows ecosystems grow. Underlying that finding, by 2011, IDC estimates that Windows and Windows-based software will have grown to account for 58% of all software spending, from 53% in 2007. Over the same time period, Linux and Linux-based software revenue will triple from 4% of the market to 9% of the market in 2011.
But these two universes could also intermingle and be hard to separate sooner rather than later. The IDC authors hint at possible Microsoft software running on Linux down the road (that is, later rather than sooner). My prediction is that it will happen sooner; Microsoft software has long run on Mac operating software.
A few caveats:
-- Remember Linux does not equal open source. IDC points out that the open-source Sun (JAVA) Solaris ecosystem could also grow during the forecast period, even if the overall UNIX ecosystem contracts.
-- In addition, although it is not clear from the numbers, presumably the Linux ecosystem estimate includes revenue from a lot of non-open-source software such as SAP (SAP) ERP software running on Linux. In fact the projected revenue size of the Linux ecosystem is possibly mostly made up of non-open-source software.
-- Dennis Byron