SCO Lawsuit: will the Enterprises take notice?

To analyse the web technology choices made by large enterprises Netcraft reviews the operating systems run on around 24,000 sites run by 1500 leading enterprises around the world, compiled from the Fortune 1000, the Financial Times European 500, and various FT regional lists.

Two months ago SCO sent letters to 1500 of the largest companies globally warning them of risks involved in running Linux. Although SCO did not make the identities of these companies public, Chris Sontag described the list as “the Fortune 500 and effectively the global 2000. It ended up being about 1,500 top international companies”. This makes it likely that the list of companies that received letters from SCO will be quite similar to the list of sites we use to study enterprises’ web site technology choices.

At the time many analysts speculated that SCO’s behaviour might deter enterprise companies from using Linux. However, this has not happened to date, at least in respect of their internet visible web sites. In the last two months Linux has made a net gain of over 100 enterprise sites; sites which have migrated to Linux including Royal Sun Alliance, Deutsche Bank, SunGard,T-online and most noteworthy, Schwab.

It may well be that although SCO has generated an enormous amount of attention from the media and the Linux evangelists, it does not presently have the attention of IT practitioners in large companies. Companies may be continuing with Linux migrations because they believe:

  • The likelihood of a successful conclusion to SCO’s lawsuit is extremely small;
  • The costs of migrating from Linux to FreeBSD at a later date are also small;
  • They are committed to a migration strategy and don't intend to change course;

In practice we think that conventional competition from Windows and Solaris currently presents more of a barrier to Linux adoption in the Enterprises than SCO. Although Linux has enjoyed a net gain over the last two months, it is not by any means one way traffic; in the past twelve months over 1600 enterprise sites have changed operating system in one direction or another.

Enterprise sites moving off Linux include Valaro Energy and National Service Industries and Colt which have moved to Windows, while Cadbury Schweppes have appropriately adopted a suck it and see approach, trying all three operating systems on their main site in the space of the last two years, and currently on Windows 2000.