It is not a question of "if" you'll deploy Linux in your company, but rather when - and how deep. There's a good chance that you've deployed it already and don't know it. Even if you're not ideologically opposed to Microsoft, there are just too many benefits to ignore Linux for very long.It is not a question of "if" you'll deploy\u00a0Linux\u00a0in your company, but rather when - and how deep. There's a good chance that you've deployed it already and don't know it. Even if you're not ideologically opposed to Microsoft, there are just too many benefits to ignore Linux for very long.The first place you'll see it - or rather, deploy it - is likely with the various appliances you install to handle network security and various storage-related functions. Where many companies used to use proprietary real-time operating systems like VxWorks as the "core" for their, say, URL scanning or XML encryption appliance, nowadays, it's a good bet that a Linux build is at the core.While there are a plethora of security services (such as Check Point's firewall) that run Windows 2000 as a base, my unscientific survey of appliances that have come through our doors in the past year seem to be more and more based on Linux. (Microsoft has made a concerted effort to make inroads in the realm of embedded systems, but that is a whole other story.)More visible will be the emergence of Linux-based servers and desktops that interact with existing MS-based systems on your corporate network.While you can't expect to find highly Microsoft-centric implementations like .Net Framework running on a Linux-based Apache Web server, you'll have no problem getting "vanilla" functions such as Web servers and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (e-mail) Linux systems with which your corporate users can interact.And even for desktop users, Linux has come a long way in the past year. Out of the box, Red Hat Linux 9.0 installed easily on several systems we experimented with. While the load-time messages can be a bit unnerving for non-technical users, they safely can be ignored (in most instances) and users can interact with the GUI.A key Linux-Microsoft integration component is SAMBA, an implementation of SMB-CIFS, aka Microsoft's LAN file system. Packaged with the Red Hat distribution, it is not installed automatically and requires more administration than on a Microsoft machine. But once installed, it lets Linux users access Microsoft shares and lets Linux machines function as Microsoft-compatible servers.For those times when you simply must execute on a Microsoft machine, there is always Citrix Systems. While not included with the Red Hat distribution, it took but a few clicks on the Mozilla browser to download and install the Citrix Linux ICA client. A few minutes later, I was running Microsoft Access "native" through the Citrix window.Finally, the license structure of open source is serving as a catalyst for innovation in the enterprise - especially when it comes to multifunction security for small to midsize businesses (SMB). A current project with Astaro provides a text-book example.Recognizing that SMBs: 1) need security as much as anyone; 2) rarely need the high-end features of "point products," and; 3) are very cost-conscious, the company has bundled a slew of "open source" firewall, VPN, anti-spam, etc., functions that provide integration of the aforementioned as its key value-add.So note to self - begin learning Linux!