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Typically, when a reseller or integrator thinks of deploying Linux, he thinks of selling it to customers to use as file/print servers or Web servers. That is, after all, how Linux, via Samba the Windows compatible file-server and Apache, everyone’s favorite open-source Web server, has made it into business.

But, we may be selling Linux and our business short if we only push Linux as an edge or low-end infrastructure play according to Forrester Research Inc. In its Linux Crosses Into Mission-Critical Apps study, Forester found that in a survey of 140 large North American companies that 53% are already using Linux for their mission-critical applications while 52% are choosing it to deploy new applications on it.

Indeed, Forrester analysts, Brad Day and Laura Koetzle, found that only 44% were using Linux to port older applications to new hardware, and 33% were choosing to run applications that required Linux.

Linux is also widely seen as being a small or medium business play, but Forrester also found that this conventional wisdom isn’t so wise. Half of the responding firms “reported more than $1 billion in annual revenues and 46% had more than 5,000 employees.”

Forrester also found that Linux seems to be entering enterprises from the usual IT channels instead of just from internal groups of Linux supporters. Only 11% of the firms that are already using Linux or planning on using Linux in the near-term future have “internal open source advisory bodies.”

This means two things for resellers. First, resellers should consider partnering with Linux distributors that target enterprise customers such as Novell Inc. and Red Hat Inc. The second is that you can now sell Linux directly to CIOs. Given Forrester’s numbers it’s clear that big business now believes that Linux is enterprise-ready.