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Growth Signs For Euro Linux IT Services

The market for Free and Open Source (FOSS) Linux related IT services in Western Europe will hit $228 million by 2008, according to new research by IDC.

But according to the same estimates, the market for FOSS/Linux IT Services in 2004 is still quite small and will be worth only approximately $98 million that year.

"The services market around Linux and free software accounts for less than 1 percent of the total Western European IT services market, but it is losing its niche status and emerging as a mainstream market," said Dominique Raviart, a senior research analyst in IDC's European Services group, in a statement.

IDC said it sees a transition from internal IT staff that had been responsible for implementing FOSS solutions to specialists, as Linux becomes more integrated into the main IT planning cycles. The firm cites this factor, as well as the drive to cut costs in the public sector, as factors behind the growth.

"Governments, whether local or central, are bringing a lot of visibility to Linux projects. At this stage, several public sector units are at the consulting phase. In the next two years, a number of them will begin migration projects," said Lionel Lamy, program manager, European Infrastructure Management Services , in a statement.

The Western European city of Munich in Germany has emerged as a poster child for government deployments by the global Linux community. The municipal government recently officially announced that it would be migrating 13,000 desktops and servers to Linux by 2008.

In a smaller deal, the French Ministry of Equipment decided to replace 1,500 Windows NT with Linux. Western Europe is also home base for Novell's SUSE Linux (Germany) and Mandrake(France), two of the more popular mainstream Linux distributions. Raleigh, North Carolina based Red Hat Linux also maintains an active presence in Europe with multiple offices across the European continent.

"In the medium-term future, the IT services market around Linux, free software, and open source software will remain small. However, it is a dynamic market and one of the few growth drivers in system integration at the moment," said IDC's Raviart.

The Global IT services market itself expanded by 6.2 percent last year according to Gartner Group research (http://www.internetnews.com/stats/article.php/3373231). U.S spending still dwarfs all other in the Global IT services market with 59 percent of the total spending in the global $569 billion market.