Ubuntu displaces CentOS at Groundwork: Good?

A recent report suggests that Ubuntu is giving CentOS a run for its non-money at Groundwork, with 29 percent of its new users using Ubuntu to power its IT management application.

What's the takeaway when one free operating system displaces another when running your application?

That's the question I'd be asking myself at Groundwork in the wake of news from the Works with U blog that 29 percent of its new users are using Ubuntu to power its IT management application instead of CentOS, the Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone. When your users are falling all over themselves to avoid paying for an operating system, can the application be far behind?

Within my own company, we weight leads heavier if they are running our application with a paid version of an operating system, application server, or database. As the reasoning goes, if a prospect is willing to pay for one of these, it will be more willing to pay for our software, as well.

I'm guessing that the operating-system data cited by Works with U relates to raw deployments, and not to Groundwork's actual customers, which would have a much higher population of paid OSes running the application. This would comport with the data that we see at Alfresco: strong adoption of Ubuntu in evaluation but production usage sticks with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, for the most part, or Windows.

Ironically, an open-source vendor's best determinant of financial success may well be how much its prospects already pay for proprietary software. Such prospects may look to open source to shave costs, but not to evade them completely. I'll feel much better about this Groundwork data when the Ubuntu adoption is paid adoption, not simply free-riding.

Follow me on Twitter at mjasay.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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