Just last week, two industry veterans — kept anonymous for their own protection — stunned me by saying: “Linux is still relegated to the edge of the enterprise, to file-and-print and Web serving.”
To me, that’s like saying Starbucks is still a regional coffee shop business. That’s so three years ago.
Of course, Linux got its start on the edges of the enterprise, but – from what I’ve seen — Linux’s role in the data center isn’t edgy anymore.
Sure, at the turn of the millennium, Linux was an edge player. IT managers who’d tried and liked Linux put their file, print and Web servers on it. It took improved kernels and support from major systems vendors, particularly IBM, to get upper management on board for Linux. Then demand for Linux-based apps began to grow, forcing ISVs to port their apps to Linux. Oracle got on board with Linux in 2003, for example.
Corporations’ move to mission-critical Linux began in earnest in 2004 and has been growing ever since. Today Linux does play on the edge — actually, it’s the dominant file-and-print and Web server platform — but it’s making a strong showing inside the data center. It may not be the dominant mission-critical app platform today, but evidence shows that it’s certainly a significant player there.
Exhibit A: At this month’s LinuxWorld Open Solutions Summit, IDC’s analysts tagged today’s Linux server and software market at $18 billion. By 2010, the market will be worth $40 billion. IDC says that Linux’s current and near-future standing isn’t coming from “edge” deployments, by the way, but from growth in deployments to databases and other data center applications.
Exhibit B: Fifty-three percent of the 140 corporate executives surveyed by Forrester Research run mission-critical applications on Linux, and 52% choose Linux for new apps.
Exhibit C: About 50% of mission critical apps will be running on Linux by 2011, according to a recent Saugatuck Technology study (reported recently by Jack Loftus). About 20% of that survey’s respondents have deployed mission-critical apps on Linux or will deploy them this year.
Exhibit D: In another survey, members of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) said that Linux will overtake Sun Microsystems’ Unix-based Solaris as the top operating system (OS) for Oracle database deployments in 2007.
Enough said about surveys. For me, users offer the real proof that Linux is more than an edge computing platform. I’ve met dozens of IT managers who have moved Oracle, SAP, email, high-volume transaction and other business-critical apps to Linux. Indeed, SearchOpenSource.com has published a slew of case studies about businesses that run mission-critical apps on Linux. In 2003 — 2003! — I wrote a story about Golden Gate University’s migration to Oracle 9i on Linux. More recent stories concern mission-critical app migrations by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Metropolitan Bank Group, R.L. Polk Company and others.
These first-hand reports have shown me that Linux is not just an edge player. Any evidence I’ve seen to the contrary has been delivered in surveys and advertisements funded by Linux’s competitors. If you’ve seen valid reports that put Linux only on the edge, please show them to me!
Can your company be added to that list of mission-critical Linux users, or does your IT organization still relegate Linux to the edge? Do you think Linux is a mini-player the mission critical platform game? Let me know by responding to this entry, or write to me at email@example.com.