As the SME marketplace increasingly looks towards Linux as a viable alternative to Microsoft, leading Linux distributor Interactive Ideas has launched LinuxVar (, an online information resource that will help address the gulf that exists between UK SMEs and solution providers.

Professional Linux support has always been readily available in the UK. However, with the exponential growth of Linux usage over the last few years, many more are interested in finding out more, and LinuxVar provides a free central directory. According to Interactive Ideas managing director Mike Trup, there is currently a scandalous lack of choice for SMEs who want a cost effective alternative to Microsoft Windows, and to date, there has been a shortage of resellers with the necessary skills. However, LinuxVar is set to change this by offering SMEs a resource that gives them the information they need, and access to resellers who have the skills they need.

Mike Trup explains. It is now widely accepted that Linux is a major revenue opportunity for IT organisations serving the SME market, but unless we find ways of bringing suppliers and customers together, this potential will never be fully realised. Over the past 12 months, we have seen a massive growth in our Linux business, and this is set to continue. The demand is certainly there, but now we have to look at how to deliver on this demand. LinuxVar aims to take to open ethos of Linux and extend it to help build relationships between customers and the channel.

One of the major barriers facing SMEs looking to implement Linux is access to accurate, relevant information and finding a VAR with the right skills who can deliver what they need. Larger organisations dont face this issue, as they tend to partner with major suppliers who have the required expertise. However, SMEs form the bedrock of UK business, and represent a huge channel opportunity that has been grossly under-exploited to date, he continued.

Helping to Fuel Market Growth

There is much evidence to suggest that the UK SME market for Linux is rapidly growing. According to recent research, 40 per cent of SMEs believe that Linux will become a core application operating system, while 55 per cent believe it is sufficiently robust to run mission critical applications. However, as businesses migrate from Windows NT and Server 2003 environments to Linux, users are experiencing difficulty finding suppliers to execute their Linux implementations.

The vision of LinuxVar is to change this, helping bring together end users and the channel and hence address a major market requirement. Business users can access the site, which offers simple, easy to understand information about Linux that is not peppered with the usual technical jargon, and search for potential suppliers with the right expertise armed with the right information, said Trup.

Response to date show that LinuxVar is exactly what the market needs, and the site is creating substantial end user interest. It is too soon to say how much business will be generated via LinuxVar, but we are confident that it will be of enormous benefit to both VARs and SMEs, and will help fuel the Linux SME market.

"Like all the best ideas, LinuxVar is simple, yet inspired. The web is the ideal medium to communicate with SMEs, as it gives them fast and easy access to all the practical information they need without cost or complication. We see LinuxVar playing a significant role in breaking down many of the perceived barriers that stop SMEs from taking full advantage of the business benefits of Linux," said Paul Salazar, director marketing EMEA, Red Hat.

Peter Sales-Huish, sales director of LinuxIT, the UKs largest independent Linux Professional Services organization commented We welcome this venture to raise awareness of Linux and I am sure that it will act as a central point for decision making around the use of Linux by VARs and SMEs. We are delighted to be part of this venture and work with Interactive Ideas to ensure its success.

Steve Purkiss, of open source specialists Open for Organisations, who has been involved in the website creation, said, LinuxVar is spot-on and well-targeted, and is another great leap forward in the visibility of Linux and Open Source in the UK SME market. This site aims to be instrumental in bringing together customers and VARs in a practical, useful way and will play an important role in helping to fulfil market demand. I am excited to be a part of the project that has huge industry weight behind it Interactive Ideas as the UKs leading Linux distributor, plus RedHat and SUSE who in turn are backed by Novell and IBM.

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