Linux will have a major impact on the market, but its most fervent supporters should stop raising expectations too high that will only lead to disappointment.
George Weiss, senior analyst at Gartner Group, was positive that Linux would do very well in parts of the market, but said he would like to "see more sanity about where this operating system is deployed." He expects the hype to peak and begin to cool by mid next year.
"Sometimes I'm amused by the downright arrogance of the Linux. This hype cycle raises expectations within the market beyond all proportion to what the reality might be," he said.
Speaking to a large proportion of the 8000 IT managers and users at this week's Gartner Group Symposium in Orlando, Weiss said Linux would do well on dedicated applications such as Web servers and Internet application servers. He said Linux would take an estimated 24 per cent of server appliance spending - a total $15 billion market by 2004 - but less than 3.5 per cent of general server hardware spending.
While Linux will attack part of the Windows NT market, it will also clean up 10 per cent of total Unix expenditure by 2004, mostly from the second tier Unix operating systems.
Weiss said the fact that Linux was already showing greater stability than Windows NT was causing "emotional trauma" inside organisations.
"The fact that it is running, running and running has become an argument in organisations to take NT and corral it somewhere it can't do any damage," he said.
IBM was showing the most solid support for Linux, he said, because of its inherent nature as a systems and services provider. But he said the company was being careful not to push the development of one super-Linux, instead making investments in three or four Linux players.
He warned that companies should not begin major database deployment on Linux until at least 2001, when one could better gauge the enthusiasm of ISVs and the support capability of vendors.
The market should also be prepared for the cost of Linux to rise, Weiss said, as the real cost of support became apparent and distributors and supporting vendors layered software on top to provide additional functionality - at a price.
"The Linux community will come to accept that you're not going to get service and support for free," he said, while "In the next 24 months, packaged proprietary software will increase the overall Linux average selling price from $500 to $1000."
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