November 13, 2002

Tracking Tux: Research Round-Up

- By Barbara French, Tekrati-

In this debut column, Butler Group declares Linux and .NET the OS winners, picks three surviving enterprise Linux distributors and calls for industry mobilization on the next generation operating system. Gartner and Giga analysts feed the populist view of Linux as a 2003 bright spot while IDC buckles both Linux and Microsoft into the server market driver's seat. META Group, as usual, is a bit more meticulous even with macro trends. Evans Data looks East and finds dotcom-worthy forecasts.

Butler Group Serves a Worldwide Wake-up Call

Several trade publications reported on Butler Group's forecast that Linux and .NET will dislodge UNIX as the dominant OS by 2009. It's a significant finding. However, it falls far short of the decision-making and industry debate-driving spirit of the firm's report, Server Operating Systems - Winners and Losers in the Open/Proprietary OS Market. Butler Group senior analyst and report co-author Mike Davis shared key highlights you shouldn't miss:

  • Distributors. Butler Group is convinced that at the enterprise level, there will only be three significant core distributors of enterprise-class Linux in the near future: Red Hat, UnitedLinux and Red Flag. Davis notes, China represents the world's largest potential market and moving to standards-based OS is vital. Red Flag is positioned perfectly to dominant that market.
  • Hardware Vendor Agendas. The proprietary hijacking of UNIX is not likely to repeat with Linux. The difference? The open source community won't let it happen, said Davis. Plus, the amount of investment the vendors have to make in offering and supporting an OS is horrendous. For these vendors, Linux is a god-send. He found no interest among the major hardware vendors or ISVs in becoming or effectively controlling distributors. Instead, he cites continued partnering along the OSDL and IBM/UnitedLinux models.
  • Security and Support. Butler Group concurs with findings that Linux fixes are delivered six to ten times faster than the critical updates and patches provided by Microsoft. They attribute the speed to the open source community. Support from established services and integrator companies further negates security and support concerns for enterprise IT shops, as long as they adopt standards based Linux.
  • Scalability. The detailed audit and rankings of 11 operating systems reflect the more scalable and robust features of mature UNIX flavors today. The report predicts that standards based Linux will meet UNIX scalability head-on in the near future.
  • Interoperability with .NET. Butler Group believes that customers will demand interoperability between the operating system stacks of .NET and Linux. If the Linux distributors and Microsoft do not address this themselves, the Open Source community will do it for them. The open source community has proven itself capable of doing this, says Davis.
  • Next Generation Architecture/OS. Butler Group explains, and even provides pictures showing that .NET, UNIX and Linux share the same bloodline. Butler Group calls for the industry to collaborate on a new bloodline, a new generation OS. Butler analysts look out at the new set of devices and the rate of innovation among these devices and conclude that today's operating systems simply won't do. The industry needs a new generation operating system designed for the present and the future: one based on presence, mobility, security, single-users, and the seriously powerful technology being built into very little boxes. Stripped down Java, Linux and the like are not ideally suited for the devices soon to redefine and dominate the IT landscape.

Today's three major flavors are one OS underneath, explains Davis. Their roots are old. They were built around processes, not people. We're not saying to ask Butler Group what this new operating system will look like. Some people in the industry and in the world are very smart, and they should be looking at this. What we at the Butler Group want to do is to focus attention on this and help get the dialog moving forward.

Free registration gets you to the management summary. Source

Golden Peaks, Bleak Horizons

Linux servers will be one of the few IT product areas likely to experience better growth in 2003, according to Gartner, Inc. and SoundView Technology Group. Their jointly produced IT Spending Confidence Survey , promoted to investors and enterprise executives as an indicator of technology spending levels and intents, predicts slightly negative growth in overall IT spending at least through mid-2003. Source

Amidst the soft desktop and mobile PC market, Giga Information Group analysts say companies are driving out non-standard hardware and increasingly view Linux as a better alternative platform. Giga also finds that companies do not want UNIX to resurge on the desktop. Clearly, Giga analysts did not read the Gartner/SoundView report. They predict flat-to-slightly-positive growth in 2003 overall IT spending and a near-term spending spike due to pent-up upgrade demand. Source

In the Driver's Seat

IDC expects the server market to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 3% over the next five years, representing a US$63.4 billion opportunity in 2006. Major drivers are Linux hardware sales tripling to US$6.5 billion in 2006 and Microsoft-based server platforms increasing by nearly US$5 billion to US$19 billion.

While RISC-based systems will face greater competition from Linux and 64-bit volume server platforms, IDC expects them to increase their presence among high-end systems competing with proprietary mainframe technology and to contribute approximately $27.7 billion to the server industry by 2006. Source

Linux: The New Great Wall?

About one in eight Chinese developers say their primary OS target next year will be Linux. That translates to a 175% increase in intent to use Linux as a primary host OS, according to Evans Data Corp.'s 2002 Chinese Developer Survey, Vol. 2. China is one of several Asian nations, including India, actively promoting Linux, citing cost benefits and security advantages as part of its growing popularity wave.

Our research suggests that a significant shift in operating systems may be underway in China, possibly as a response to the urging of the government to adopt Linux, commented Evans Data analyst Esther Schindler. However, while Windows use has declined from the last Chinese survey, the developers are not automatically switching to Linux - many are adopting Java virtual machines as a native development environment and as the target OS on which they expect their applications to run. Ten percent of Chinese developers say their primary host OS will be a JVM next year. Source

Heed the Message

Gartner, Inc. sees the Open Source Application Foundation (OSAF) announcement of Chandler as a challenge to commercial e-mail vendors. Chandler is touted as an open source alternative to Outlook that will run against open source or commercial mail servers. Gartner's First Take advises commercial e-mail vendors to heed OSAF's Chandler challenge: deliver messaging environments that are not tied to a homogeneous architecture or restrictive licensing. Source in pdf

Mixed META Fore's

Updated META Group server infrastructure trends forecasts Lintel as a successful high-volume Web, technical computing, and appliance server OS (2002/03). META analysts predict slower Linux penetration in the enterprise application package (2003/04) and DBMS (2005/06) server markets. They also project Linux software and services prices will increase to about 10% to 20% less than those of Windows by 2004/05. Source

Catch 'em Live

The Present and Future of Database Management Systems on Linux
November 15: Giga Information Group GigaTel
Cost: US$295 or 2 Giga Service Units
Info/Registration

Giga analysts Stacey Quandt and Lou Agosta will examine how Oracle, IBM DB2, MySQL and Postgres are enabling and driving the deployment of databases on Linux. Topics include: the ongoing technical maturity of MySQL and Postgres and how (and if) these products merit consideration as a low cost replacement for a proprietary solution; recommendations based on Linux distribution providers, IHV and ISV certification and partnerships. Vendors Discussed: Oracle, Dell, IBM, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, Sybase, Red Hat, HP, SuSE.

What to expect: Users requiring databases that deliver high availability rather than vertical scalability will select Linux based on price/performance characteristics, said Stacy Quandt, a Linux and Open Source analyst with Giga. DB2 and Oracle on Linux as well as Microsoft SQLServer on Windows will face pressure as the technical capabilities of open source database alternatives mature.

Linux in Prime Time: Open Source Meets Enterprise Requirements
December 3: Illuminata at Enterprise LINUX FORUM, Boston
Cost: show registration, US$395 - $895
Info/Registration

Illuminata's Jonathan Eunice will keynote on the evolution and status of Linux in the enterprise. Topics will include his take on the evolution of Linux and associated open source tools, where they stand today relative to Windows and Big Unix alternatives, and projections on where they're going. He'll separate key jobs for which Linux and open source tools are well suited from those he does not recommend. Enterprise case studies and the enterprise context -- Budget, Employees, Time and Risk -- will round out the speech.

The Virtual Environment - Where Does Linux Fit?
December 4: IDC at Enterprise LINUX FORUM, Boston
Cost: show registration, US$395 - $895
Info/Registration

Dan Kusnetzky, vice president of system software for IDC, will assess the role of open source in multi-system configurations (grids, farms, clusters). What are the categories of software that make up the virtual environment and where does Linux and other open source software play? As always, Kusnetzky's answers will leverage the IDC knowledge base including some 300,000 user surveys conducted each year.

What to expect: Kusnetzky pegs the presentation as very high level. IDC's software research group has been researching the entire virtual environment including virtual application environments, virtual access software, virtual processing software, and virtual storage software, said Kusnetzky. I'm planning on describing this model and then highlighting where Linux-based systems currently play and where they don't. Kusnetzky is likely to debut IDC's revised forecast for virtual access, virtual processing and virtual storage markets during the presentation.

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