Enterprise Linux Log

Mar 10 2008   11:53AM GMT

Linux growth tied to personnel issues

Megan Santosus Profile: Msant

This post was written by Megan Santosus, SearchEnterpriseLinux.com feature writer.

Linux has outpaced Windows and Unix in corporate adoption rates, according to research firm IDC’s 2007 server market numbers. The pace of Linux’s future adoption could partly depend upon whether certain people choose early retirement, another researcher says.

According to IDC, Windows is still the dominant player, responsible for 36.6% of server revenues for the fourth quarter of 2007. (Quarterly Windows revenues totaled $5.7 billion—a new quarterly record.) Unix servers took in 33.3% of quarterly revenues. And Linux servers—which reached a milestone of $2 billion for a single quarter—made up 12.7% of revenues for the quarter.

While Linux still lags its rivals, it’s growing at the fastest clip. IDC pegged Linux year-over-year revenue growth from 2006 to 2007 at 11.6%. By comparison, Windows revenues grew 6.9%, and Unix a paltry 1.5%.

Richard Jones, vice president and service director for Data Center Strategies at IT research and advisory firm The Burton Group, sees a shift in sentiment among CIOs he talks to that mirrors what’s going on in the market. “CIOs that haven’t moved to Linux yet are planning to do so soon,” Jones said.

Certainly, Linux is gaining a track record for reliability, Jones said, and costs—at least for initial software licenses and maintenance—are lowest for Linux compared to Unix and Windows. And Jones cited Oracle Corp.’s decision to release its 11g database first on Linux as further evidence that the market is shifting irretrievably.

With all the momentum behind Linux, an interesting question emerges: Why isn’t every shop that is able from a workload standpoint to migrate to Linux doing so?

Jones however sees a good reason for the hesitancy: skills. Unix shops in particular remain set in their server ways. Most have veteran Unix experts running their IT systems. “Many shops today have Unix engineers and administrators,” he said. “Once those people start to retire in droves, that’s when many CIOs will make the move to Linux.”

It sounds downright bizarre to buck the trend toward running apps on commodity servers, especially considering that enterprise applications like Oracle and SAP run on commodity-based x86 boxes running Linux.

In this case, it’s not the technology after all. It’s the people.

4  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Msant
    What is a "server revenue"? Does that mean computers purchased with an OS pre-installed? If so, how many of them will have the OS replaced with Linux as soon as the box is opened? And in that case, do are IDC numbers worth a flying crap?
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  • Msant
    This is ridiculous. As a UNIX administrator with 24 years in this business, I know the UNIX staff. No UNIX technical people are afraid of Linux. Anywhere. Most run Linux on their desktop machines, when the IT policies allow it. Most UNIX shops have dozens, if not hundreds of Linux boxes, handling middleware, network infrastructure and file sharing tasks. The reluctance to deploy Linux comes from two places. The first is management. These are like the management at my former employer, who would rather run an application on a ten-year-old installation of SCO Open Server than spend a week or two porting it to Linux. efficeincy and reliability be damned, as long as I can renew my support contract. The other source of reluctance to move from UNIX to Linux is the fact that Linux doesn't scale as well. Small and middle-sized apps, requiring a few processors do very well on Linux. Petabyte databases, applications running into the millions of lines of code, machines with more than eight processors all turn out to be less reliable and often much slower under Linux than UNIX.
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  • Msant
    It is probably people who are holding up an adoption of Linux, but it is absolutely a nonsensical conclusion to say that it is the UNIX administrators who are dragging their feet. As has been pointed out in other forums, any UNIX administrator has had to learn multiple versions over his or her career. From that point of view, Linux is just another in a long series with its own quirks. No big deal at all. Microsoft Windows administrators, OTOH, face a completely different OS with very little similarity to what they already know. In my experience, they tend far more than their UNIX counterparts to cling to the familiar at the expense of their employers' true needs.
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  • Msant
    Indeed. Linux is just another variety of Unix. Solaris 10 is actually nicer than it's given credit for, and Red Hat doesn't run our apps nearly as well on the X4600s we have running Sol10 (we tried). But I can't think of a Solaris admin I know (and I know a fair few) who wouldn't happily deploy Linux anywhere it's cost and performance effective.
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