Adoption of open source systems in the South African enterprise is continuing unabated, with the country's leading open source enterprise implementer, Obsidian, reporting a staggering 37% growth in Red Hat implementations in the past year. This is almost double the 21% global growth reported by Red Hat, the frontrunner in Linux-based enterprise systems.
"I think it's fair to say that open source adoption in South Africa has matured, but is still a long way from reaching saturation point," says Muggie van Staden, Obsidian's CEO.
"The question is less 'who is using it' than 'who isn't using it', with a great number of large corporates running mission-critical systems on Red Hat."
Van Staden adds that South Africa is still several years behind the United States and Europe in open source adoption, which holds great promise for even stronger growth in the next five years. He attributes the phenomenal growth of the past year to this diminished gap and increased confidence in open source systems, but also to the recession.
"Some of these companies may not have considered open source a viable alternative four or five years ago, but are now open to discussing it as a result of the need to reduce costs," he says.
"The interesting thing is that once customers have converted to open source they invariably broaden its application across their systems due to its appeal as a cost-effective,secure and stable environment."
Obsidian has been serving the local market since 1995, and has implementations that range from small Web servers to mission critical environments. Some customers have been using Red Hat in their data centres for more than a decade, while all major banks and telcos in South Africa run Linux systems to power some of their most sensitive and critical functions.
"A lot of the old fears about security, availability of trained resources and compatibility with existing systems are now a thing of the past as the architecture, support and professionalism of open source implementers are on a par with proprietary systems," says Van Staden. "This, we believe, will contribute to a boom in Red Hat locally in the next five years."