December 26, 2002

Tracking Tux: Research Round-Up

- By Barbara French, Tekrati -

Directions on Microsoft lists Linux among Microsoft's top ten challenges. Evans Data offers developers a chance at a cash prize, while Dravis Group offers newbies a chance to catch up. IDC Meridien sees Linux as a fringe element in capital markets. Once again, IDC server research found Linux the only operating system type to see positive growth last quarter, this time in Western Europe.

Put A Lid On It

Many think Microsoft is unstoppable, but independent analyst firm Directions on Microsoft sees numerous challenges for Microsoft in the year ahead. The research firm identified ten of the most significant challenges the company faces in the year ahead. "Keeping a Lid on Linux" ranked #3. According to the report, "Microsoft lacks a coherent strategy for combating this product. As the company knows, from its own successes with Internet Explorer and Windows Media, free product tends to take the wind out of commercial business models (as Netscape and RealNetworks can attest)." Source

Capital Fringe

"Linux providers' lack of capital markets expertise and inability to bring in independent software vendors will make them important but fringe players in the capital markets over the next 18 months," said IDC Meridien analyst Damon Kovelsky. The latest IDC Meridien Linux report examines the status and immediate future of Linux in the capital markets. Source

That Red Euro Quarter

IDC found that Western Europeans went on holiday last quarter, as usual, but neglected to buy servers after returning to work. The firm reports that third quarter sales of servers declined 12.4% in Western Europe on a year-on-year basis. Linux based servers stood out, showing a positive increase of 3.1%. Linux was the only operating system type to show growth. The next-best performing types both wore red, with Windows-based servers declining 3.8% and UNIX declining 11.4% relative to third quarter 2001. Source

Newbie Matter

The Dravis Group's free debut report offers a well-rounded introduction to industry-level initiatives, discussion, rhetoric and debate on Linux and open source software. "The intention of report is to easily develop an understanding of Linux market dymanics, which are not very well understood by the average person in the idustry," said Paul J. Dravis. "The focus of the research was to identify initiatives by major players and implementations of Linux and open source, along with government initiatives inside and outside the US."

Dravis encountered some surprises during his research. "There appears to be growning interest in Linux deployment at the desktop," said Dravis. Yet, he said it remains largely untapped and deems it "a significant window of opportunity from the distro side."

In addition to overviewing leading players, Dravis shows his fascination for Linux in consumer electronics products. "Embedded Linux is a market that's growing, and will probably drive Linux adoption through a wide variety of Internet devices," said Dravis.

Next on his research agenda: an MMOG overview focusing on The Sims Online, which relies on multiple computing clusters from Dell Computer running Redhat Linux and Oracle databases.

A META Raft

Responding to an explosion in Fortune 2000 client inquiries, META Group analysts and management convened to discuss Linux from a variety of vantage points. The upshot is the firm's current analysis and five-year forecast for Linux and its impact on the IT landscape, sliced into nine briefs. META Group briefs serve as the stimulus for analyst/client discussion rather than as definitive data points or rankings. Highlights include:

  • The Linux Scenario: Widespread Linux adoption during the next five years will catalyze major changes in the IT industry landscape. By 2006/07, Linux on Intel ("Lintel") will be on 45% of new servers (Intel will be on 95%+ of new servers). Beginning in late 2004, Microsoft (and its partners) will begin moving some of its proprietary application enablers (e.g., .Net components) to the Linux environment; this will gradually include the major Microsoft back-office products, such as SQL Server, IIS, and Exchange. We also believe Microsoft will reprice and/or separate the Windows server OS (e.g., into kernel and "add-on" components), so it can be favorably compared against "free" Linux. Momentum in market share and the support of IBM, Oracle, HP, Dell, et al. will drive increasingly availability of systems management, networking, application development, and applications in general on Linux platforms during the next 12-18 months. Scalability to that of proprietary UNIX OSs (e.g., AIX, HP/UX, Solaris) will take a couple more years.
  • Linux vs. UNIX vs. Windows ... and the Winner Is Intel: Although Linux is now only a small enterprise data center player (3% penetration), strong growth through 2007 will propel it to 11% presence (i.e., proprietary UNIX: 40%; Windows: 38%; and zOS: 11%). Reflecting the market's continued drive for cost-effective hardware, 2007-12 platform demographics will reflect Intel's expanded dominance (from 54% to 82%) at the expense of both RISC (falling from 35% to 15%) and CISC (IBM's complex instruction set computers - falling from 11% to 3%).
  • Ready for Management: Although the necessary tools and most capabilities are present (easier installs and better user interfaces are needed), manageability still lacks consistency across all Linux distributions. Management is not a barrier to Linux adoption, but it is important to account for the training and tools needed to ensure consistent support with all open systems platforms.
  • Linux Development: Waiting for Demand: As Linux gains market share, Java will be the predominant development environment, pitting J2EE/Lintel against .Net/Wintel. As both the J2EE and .Net platforms mature, they will become de facto "operating environments" by 2006. Linux adoption in application development should be driven by its acceptance as a deployment platform. To best position themselves to exploit the cost savings Linux will eventually provide, organizations should focus on solutions that enable easy code portability.
  • End-User Linux: Competing in Invisible Places: Mainstream Linux deployment for Windows replacement (especially on the PC desktop) will remain small, driven by total-cost-of-ownership skepticism, risk aversion, and user experience/support concerns. But we expect increased deployment in limited function environments (e.g., store PCs and POS terminals, data entry, customer interaction centers), on appliance devices, in education/government, and in selected geographies with strong technical underpinnings and minimal Windows installed bases (e.g., India, China). Although user antagonism toward Microsoft remains strong - triggering strong interest in Linux - deployment is being held back by poor Linux vendor execution.
  • Network and Security Impacts of Linux: META Group is seeing Linux impact on the network in increased appliance adoption rates and in network operations support systems. We see no impact on the network in terms of different traffic patterns between Linux and other operating systems. Although Linux has the same basic security exposures as other operating systems, its current lack of broad deployment, fine-grained customization, and openness will encourage (near term) bug patches to appear more quickly, but security exposures will increase as Linux continues to gain popularity. Companies should exploit the low cost and customizability of Linux, but be prepared for increased security exposure in the future.
  • Linux in the Storefront: Our research indicates that Linux use in portals, Web content management, enterprise content management, e-procurement, multi-channel e-commerce, supplier relationship management, etc. is still recent. POS systems fit well with the low-cost and configurable operating system, and we believe Linux will gradually "digest" Web-based e-business solutions (2003-06) by supporting underlying subfunctions. Linux-based dedicated function platforms will grow rapidly (due to lower perceived cost) and begin attracting more client interest; we also believe there will be Linux-based content management, personalization, middleware, portals, and search functions (after 2004), but not for complete e-business suites.
  • Open Source/Linux: The Government Take: Although use of open source software and Linux is still in its infancy within public-sector organizations, many jurisdictions are evaluating a Linux "strategy" for command and control. Part of this is a public-sector backlash against Microsoft price increases and its perception as a monopoly. This is particularly true in parts of Europe (e.g., the UK, Germany) and Asia (e.g., China); the US Department of Defense is also investigating Linux for command and control. Bottom Line: Linux will have significant public-sector acceptance (especially overseas), which will encourage further commercial developments.
  • Linux: No Silver Bullet for Total Server Ownership Cost: Linux acceptance gained significant momentum in 1H02, having moved from "bleeding edge" to "early adopter" status (for specific functions, though >2 CPU deployments are still rare). IT organizations must evaluate platform costs from a total-cost-of-ownership perspective. The Linux OS itself is nominally free, but data center-ready Linux distributions (e.g., RedHat, SuSE) are not. Until 2004, we believe Linux will be a larger threat to UNIX (particularly Solaris) than to Windows.

Evans Data: Developer Survey with $500US Drawing

Evans Data invites developers to participate in an online survey. They say that your input to this survey will help software tool makers create the tools that you want to use, and developer programs you wish to be part of. They will enter participants in a drawing for $500US. Only one completed survey will be allowed per respondent. The survey is mostly multiple choice and takes 10 to 15 minutes. Go to survey.

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