Growing slow but steady
Open source has been slow to pick up in the enterprise segment.
Here is a look at what India Inc. plans to do with open source software in the
present fiscal. by Anil Patrick R and Shivani Shinde
There is no clear-cut roadmap for open systems. It is
largely limited to smaller applications
Many Indian organisations have already made considerable investments
in open source, as the Infrastructure Strategies (IS) 2005 survey reveals. Going
forward, adoption rates will grow, slowly yes, but steadily nevertheless.
Head - IT, IDBI Bank
The widespread use of open source operating systems (primarily
Linux) for core applications is still far away. However, Linux is being used
in other enterprise applications (such as messaging, databases and so on). For
example, IDBI bank runs its IVR and phone banking solutions on open source software.
The bank is also in the process of implementing Oracle HRMS on Linux. According
to Sanjay Sharma, Head - IT, IDBI Bank, "As of now, there is no clear-cut
roadmap for open systems. It is largely limited to smaller applications. Therefore,
organisations are trying out open source in a phased manner."
If Windows is favoured by many, Linux is slowly making inroads on the server
front and it is already used by 39 percent of surveyed organisations.
|Growing slow but steady
Despite what the nay sayers try to preach, there
is no denying the fact that open source is slowly carving out a niche
for itself. While it is still far from the enterprise core, it is surely
heading that way.
Open source if implemented right can provide business
benefits comparable to any of the traditional closed source options. Start
with non-critical applications and move upwards.
Linux is on an equal footing with Windows 2003 server (both
OSs rack up 39 percent of respondents as users with possible overlaps where
both are deployed in the same organisation). Refer to Figure: Existing server
infrastructure to see how Linux fares vis-à-vis competing OSs.
Linux is most popular in the telecom vertical with 67 percent of organisations
having deployed it. BPO and oil/power follow with adoption rates of 54 and 50
One of the main reasons for choosing Linux is the ongoing shift from Unix or
proprietary server platforms. Many organisations are moving to Linux as an alternative
Unix platform that runs on off-the-shelf hardware. Says Arun Gupta, Senior Director
for Business Technology, Pfizer, "Linux provides significant savings over
conventional Unix machines. There has been an upward movement in Linux adoption.
In most cases, it is not replacing Windows."
Linux follows Windows 2000 with 32 percent of respondents opting to invest in
it this fiscal. The Figure: Planned server infrastructure investments represents
the planned Linux investments during 2005-06.
Linux provides significant savings over conventional
Linux is popular in the telecom vertical where no less than
83 percent plan to invest in it during 2005-06. The pharmaceutical/ chemical
and services segments follow with 39 and 38 percent respectively planning to
deploy Linux this fiscal. Red Hat remains the preferred Linux server flavour
with 89 percent of organisations that intend to deploy Linux naming it as their
distribution of choice. Linux will see increased adoption this year.
The road ahead
- Linux is used by 39 percent of the surveyed
- The telecom sector is the biggest user
of Linux at present with two out of
three survey respondents from this sector having deployed it.
- 83 percent of telecom organisations plan
to invest in Linux during 2005-06.
Exciting times lie ahead for 64-bit RISC hardware and Unix
operating systems with Sun open sourcing Solaris. IBM's open source strategies
also show promise.
64-bit Linux has been around longer than 64-bit Windows. The edge that Linux
has over Windows (since the launch of AMD's Opteron processor in 2003) promises
to be more prominent now. The Lintel (Linux on Intel) platform is quite strong
on the server front. 64-bit Lintel-based servers will help cement open source's
gains in the enterprise server market.
Cut to the application
Open source applications have also made their presence felt quietly in the enterprise.
It is necessary to stress that many of these applications are not just for the
Unix/Linux platforms. Many popular OSS (Open Source Software) packages are available
for Windows as well.
Some of the foremost OSS applications are the Apache Web server,
Tomcat application server, the OpenOffice.org initiative, the MySQL open source
database and PostgreSQL open source database initiatives. Recent entrants to
this league include Mozilla's Thunderbird e-mail client and the Firefox browser.
Open source ERP and CRM packages are also available.
On the security side, there are several open source applications
such as firewalls and IDS (Intrusion Detection System) that are popular with
enterprises. Firewalls based on ipchains and IDS software such as Snort are
widely used by enterprises.
If Windows is favoured by many, Linux is slowly making
inroads on the server front and it is already used by 39 percent of surveyed
The biggest setback to the adoption of open source software
in enterprise is the existing mindsetboth from the technology standpoint
as well as the business or user side of things. This has to be circumvented
if OSS deployment in an organisation has to succeed.
Senior Director for Business Technology, Pfizer
Proper evaluation of the various software options and the
functionality must be done before deciding on a solution. "The main considerations
that come into play for an open source system to be considered are organisational
considerations, application requirements and application vendor support,"
explains Sanjay Sharma.
The risk factors associated with the deployment-parameters
such as availability of required skill sets/support for the application, possible
standardisation or interoperability issues with existing or planned systems,
ease of use, security issues, ongoing costs, cost effectiveness and service
levels must be considered.
Once this evaluation is over and the requirements are met,
it does not matter if the application is open or closed source. However, many
of the enterprises err on the side of caution and overlook open source applications
altogether. This might lead them to losing out on cost-effective deployments.
- Linux is a good option for thin clients in large-scale data entry
applications and call centres.
- Shifting from Unix to Linux-based servers can provide cost benefits
without compromising on performance.
- Consider open source applications during the evaluation process.
- Open source OSs and applications can be useful if licence management
is an issue.
- User training is crucial for better acceptance in the case of open
Anil Patrick R can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shivani Shinde can be reached at email@example.com