time will tell if Linux will be the preferred OS in
the enterprise space. Let's see what server vendors,
enterprise applications vendors, and analysts say about
it. by Soutiman Das Gupta
began as defiance. Proprietary server and OS vendors
didn't really want to admit the presence of Linux in
the networking world and dismissed it as a passing fad
and hype. In the late 90s, a few hardware and software
vendors entered into alliances with Linux distribution
vendors, but still did not have anything large to offer.
Faced with constrained IT budgets, CIOs/CTOs decided
to try Linux-based servers. Happy with its performance
companies slowly migrated more systems to Linux. Then
they began insisting that new servers be delivered pre-installed
Time will tell
Now when users insist on a Linux-based solution, how
can vendors be far behind? Defiance gave way to compliance.
Over the last three quarters, Linux has received a noticeable
amount of attention from server vendors and enterprise
application solution providers. Server vendors like
Sun and IBM now offer customers the choice between its
proprietary OSs (Solaris and AIX) and Linux. Enterprise
application solution vendors like SAP and CA have released
versions which perform optimally on a Linux-based platform.
Linux distribution vendors like Red Hat and SCO have
released enterprise editions of its products and upheld
it with on-site support contracts.
Analysts have also made ambitious predictions on Linux-based
server sales and popularity. They feel that the low
cost of license and ability to tweak source code will
be the main drivers for sale. For example, IDC projects
that in 2006, 2.2 million Linux servers will be shipped
worldwide. All in all, a pretty picture for the OS.
But after this spell of romance is over will the OS
still be a preferred partner in the enterprise space?
Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, let's look at some of the initiatives of
server vendors, enterprise applications solutions vendors,
and Linux distribution vendors. And let's also see what
analysts have to say.
The server vendor biggies like IBM, HP, and Sun have
announced a number of Linux initiatives. Despite spending
thousands of dollars over time to develop and market
proprietary Unix variants, these companies are foraying
into the use of the open source OS. Some even plan to
invest substantially for Linux's development.
IBM has Linux-enabled its range of e-business applications
like DB2 Universal Database, WebSphere application servers,
Domino, MQSeries, and Tivoli system management tools.
And the company claims to deliver complex Linux-based
solutions to its customers by synergizing its range
Sandeep Menon, Linux Business Manager, ASEAN/SA at IBM
says, "We recognize that Linux will be one of the
leading OSs in the future and are ready with products,
which will support Linux-based solutions. Linux neutralizes
any vendor's ability to exercise control over customers
or developers. This helps us to make heterogeneous hardware,
software and applications work together."
Kamal Dutta, Business Manager-Linux, HP India said,
"We view Linux as a 'strategic OS' and have devoted
substantial resources across the company to make Linux
as robust and reliable and as easily managed as HP-UX
or a Windows platform."
HP's Linux offerings include servers, workstations,
storage, printers, server appliances, software, services,
support, and education & training. Its recent initiative
called 'Linux Systems Operation' aims to provide in-depth
perspective into the advancement of Linux and open source
technologies. HP has also been involved in projects
like Samba, Debian, Linux Standards Base, and Pegasus.
Sun feels that Linux is a real growth opportunity for
the company and promises to make enterprise-class software
available on Linux through its initiatives line Sun
ONE and the Mad Hatter project.
Some of Sun's Linux initiatives are:
New offerings of the Sun ONE software stack on Linux,
which includes the Sun ONE Application Server 7 and
Directory Server 5.1 on Linux.
Other Sun ONE software like Portal Server, Identity
Server, Calendar Server, and Messaging Server are
scheduled to run on Linux within this year.
All Java technology offerings like J2EE and J2SE for
the server and the desktop are tested and available
Mad Hatter, a Linux desktop solution is slated for
a beta release in a few months and will be generally
available by the middle of this year.
Dell, Oracle, and Red Hat have collaborated to develop,
test, and market enterprise-ready Linux solutions based
on Dell PowerEdge Servers, Dell/EMC and PowerVault storage
systems, Release 2 of Oracle9i Database with Real Application
Clusters, and the Red Hat Linux Advanced Server OS.
Amit Midha, Director of Marketing and Enterprise Systems,
Dell Computer Asia, said, "Dells alliance
with Red Hat called Dell/Red Hat One Source Alliance
in June 2000 outlined an integrated package of joint
development, global services, and marketing
Most enterprise application vendors claim that their
products are platform-independent. But there have been
compatibility issues when enterprises have tried to
install the packages on a chosen platform. This prompted
application vendors to announce 'preferred platforms'
for their products and develop product variations optimized
for a particular OS. In line with this philosophy, a
number of enterprise application solutions vendors like
Oracle, SAP, CA, and Veritas have released Linux versions
of their products so that the user has the choice.
SAPs products like SAP Business Information Warehouse
and SAP Business-to-Business Procurement for Linux with
mySAP.com are in the market. In 2000 the company announced
SAP DB database management system available as open-source
software under GNU General Public License.
Alan Sedghi, President and Managing Director, SAP India
said, "SAP is the first and only software in the
world that runs mission-critical ERP operations on Linux."
The company also delivers mySAP.com, the e-business
platform on Linux for the IBM eServer zSeries.
Last year, Veritas outlined its strategy in the Linux
storage market with a few new products, partnerships,
and contributions to the Linux open source community.
The company introduced its clustering and NAS software
for Linux. Veritas also announced initiatives to bring
Linux solutions to market with key companies, including
Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, and Red Hat.
Agendra Kumar, Country Manager, Veritas said, "Until
2002, there was no comprehensive storage management
tool for Linux-based platforms." The company's
storage software range includes NetBackup, Foundation
Suite for storage management, and Cluster Server. Agendra
Kumar adds, "Before we released the 'Foundation
Suite' on Linux, the OS lacked the storage management
capabilities required to be deployed in mainstream and
CA claims to offer more than 60 e-business products
that can help manage, secure, preserve and integrate
Linux in an enterprise. Some of CA's Linux strategies
Linux on Mainframe: IBM and CA announced a number of
Linux-on-mainframe solutions, including pre-configured
Linux-on-zSeries and S/390.
Network management: Unicenter provides solutions for
integrated Linux management and offers other network
Security: eTrust offerings for Linux deliver policy
compliance, vulnerability assessment, access control,
and virus protection for Linux file servers.
Storage: CA offers BrightStor ARCserve Backup for
Linux, the first native disaster recovery solution
Oracle has gone gung-ho with its support of Linux and
has been able to generate a lot of positive response
from its partners and the Linux developer community.
The company claims more than 3,500 ISVs use Oracle Database
on Linux. Its partner Network Appliance claims Oracle
on Linux is easy to deploy and cost-effective on its
Filers. And Oracle claims more than 733,000 developers
have downloaded Oracle Linux products.
A Gartner Dataquest APAC OS forecast and server quarterly
statistics 2002 report claimed that Linux is making
inroads but is dollar-elusive. It said that Linux continues
to be over-hyped, mostly due to anti-Microsoft sentiments,
especially with the release of Microsoft Licensing 6.0
and worry of Microsoft and MNC vendor lock-in.
The same report said Linux-based server units had 2.88
percent market share in 2001, 3.17 percent in 2002,
and estimated 3.78 percent in 2003. Windows-based servers
had the largest share with 84.28 percent market share
in 2001, 86.9 percent in 2002, and estimated 88.09 percent
in 2003. Although both Linux and Windows market shares
are growing Unix's market share has steadily dropped
from 10.21 percent in 2001, 8.17 percent in 2002, and
estimated 7.34 percent in 2003.
The end-user spending share for Windows has grown from
34.42 percent in 2001 to 38.81 percent in 2002 and is
estimated to grow to 40.35 percent in 2003. Linux shows
slow end user spending share growth. It was 1.11 percent
in 2001, 1.24 percent in 2002, and estimated 1.5 percent
in 2003. The figures for Unix have grown from 46.8 percent
in 2001, to 47.81 percent in 2002, and estimated 49.09
percent in 2003.
Kevin McIsaac of Meta Group feels that through the first
quarter of 2003 Linux will begin to penetrate the application
server tier, with IBM and BEA targeting Linux on Intel
as a low-cost J2EE platform. By the first half of 2003
Oracle Real Application Clusters will demonstrate adequate
high-availability clustering capabilities, enabling
Linux to begin penetrating the low-end enterprise database
market. By the end of 2003 Lintel will constitute 25
percent of server sales for the application server tier
and 10 percent of server sales in the database tier.
By the year end of 2007, this will increase to 40 percent
and 25 percent respectively.
The Aberdeen Group says that in 2003, Linux will continue
to move toward the domination of high performance computing
and embedded systems. It also feels that on top of a
50 percent-plus growth rate in enterprise servers in
2002, it forecasts a 40 percent growth for Linux servers
Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at
There are various Linux distributions
like Red Hat, SuSE, Mandrake, Debian, and Slackware.
But enterprises were reluctant to use Linux because
they were worried about vendor support. Vendors
like Red Hat, SuSE, and Mandrake now offer support,
services, and consulting at a fee. This has put
a lot of confidence into a CIO's mind and will
be a driving factor for increased Linux use. Red
Hat has released Red Hat Linux Advanced Server,
and other applications like Content and Collaboration
Management tools, and Stronghold Enterprise Secure
Web Server. The company also offers consulting,
training, and support for enterprises. SuSE offers
SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) and other
applications like SuSE Linux Openexchange Server,
and SuSE Linux Groupware Server with Lotus Domino.
It also offers enterprise services and support.
Mandrake offers Mandrake Linux 9.0 ProSuite Edition
and a Firewall for enterprises. The products are
backed with support, consulting, and training.
on the desktop
Linux has not been able to make much
of an inroad in the desktop market as yet. Around
93.7 percent of desktops in APAC use Windows. Companies
like Red Hat, SuSE, and Mandrake market a desktop
version of its OS and users can also download other
distributions. LG Electronics India has launched
a range of PCs called MY PC. The LG MY PC series
is available in two configurations and is shipped
with the Linux OS on Intel Pentium 4 processors.
The company feels that Linux is not only relatively
stable and bug free but also lowers the price of
the product. The price ranges between Rs 33,900
and Rs 36,500. KNOPPIX, a collection of GNU/Linux
software is available on a bootable CD. It includes
automatic hardware detection, support for graphics
cards, sound cards, SCSI and USB devices, and other
peripherals. It can be used as a Linux demo, educational
CD, rescue system, or adapted and used as a platform
for commercial software product demos. It is not
necessary to install anything on a hard disk. Due
to on-the-fly decompression, the CD can have up
to 2 GB of executable software installed on it.