August 7, 2009, 9:24 am
The question of whether Linux is ready for the enterprise has long been answered by the enormous success the operating system has had in enterprise and data center adoption. The new question should be: how long will it take for Linux to supplant Unix's place in the enterprise?
That was the general sense carried away from a recent analysts' meeting conducted by IBM to showcase their recent success in migrating customers from Unix to Linux environments--specifically, from Sun Microsystems' Solaris to Linux.
Inna Kuznetsova, Director, Linux Strategy, led the meeting attended by IT analysts and painted a telling picture of what IBM's Linux business has been in recent months: in short, strong and growing. To give an idea of this strength, Kuznetsova reported that in the past three years, over 1,800 customers have migrated from competitive platforms to IBM, and nearly 50 percent of those IBM wins included Linux.
IBM is also picking up a lot of business from Sun, having doubled their number of Sun customer wins between first quarter and second quarter 2009. Kuznetsova attributed these recent moves to customer uncertainly regarding Sun following the recent takeover bid from Oracle.
The meeting served as a platform to highlight these recent wins, but also to reaffirm IBM's commitment to Linux. Big Blue has been working with Linux for over 10 years now, with no end in sight. Kuznetsova emphasized that this is due to the value proposition Linux has always brought to the table--value that has only increased as Linux becomes more feature-rich.
This feature complexity augments the usual value argument for Linux: that its development and licensing model makes it a more affordable software platform to implement. And while Kuznetsova did not dismiss the lower costs of Linux in her presentation, she stressed that more was at stake for customers than just cost.
"Customers do not just move to save costs," Kuznetsova said. "They move because they need to do things better and save costs."
A big part of IBM's success with Linux is the incorporation of Linux into its pre-existing Migration Factory program. The Migration Factory has been around for over 20 years now, which means IBM has gotten individual migration projects down to a science, as far as assessing a migration and knowing which resources and tools to throw at the project.
Another chapter of the success story is IBM's partners, notably Red Hat and Novell. Kuznetsova stated that their efforts and cooperation with customers have made the migration projects flow even smoother than IBM could do on their own.
In an analyst event like this, one does not expect to hear any downsides to a company's business. But with IBM's latest run of success in Linux migrations, it seems clear that Unix-to-Linux migration rates will be growing for the foreseeable future.