The Linux bandwagon gained further momentum this week as Linux vendor Red Hat released an updated version of its enterprise class Advanced Server product.
The company revealed that the release is the first in what will now be a quarterly upgrade cycle.
Principal features in the update to version 2.1 are support for IBM's x440 server, and improvements to the virtual memory system.
Support for IBM's x440 product builds on the recently announced relationship between the two companies, and shows that Linux is mature enough to be used beyond 2- and 4-way servers, according to analysts.
Erik Troan, senior director of product marketing at Red Hat, told vnunet.com: "Historically, customers have had to migrate to newer Linux operating systems to take advantage of new hardware, which imposed significant testing and migration costs."
Troan also claimed that IT managers will be able to plan and allocate resources more efficiently with regular scheduled updates that do not take them by surprise.
Analysts indicated that the Red Hat/IBM alliance demonstrated that Linux is increasingly being taken seriously by corporate IT departments as an enterprise-class platform.
"This is more evidence that Linux is becoming more and more accepted in the commercial software arena," said Mark Blowers, senior research analyst at the Butler Group.
"These latest updates add greater capability on more hardware platforms and give it wider appeal."
He claimed that corporates are prepared to pay for open source if it means guaranteeing enterprise-level support and reliability for products.
"It doesn't move away from open source principles," explained Blowers. "The kernel is still freely available but enterprises and commercial organisations are looking for more stability, support and back-up."
Graham Titterington, senior analyst at Ovum, welcomed the upgrade as another step in the growing "maturity" of Linux in the commercial world.
But he warned that users might not necessarily want such frequent upgrades to products.
"Red Hat has got to watch its step," he said. "Users want bugs fixed but beyond that they want stability and to avoid all the management and integration costs every time the ground moves beneath their feet."
Recent high-profile adoptions of Linux include a roll-out at consumer goods giant Unilever, while Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston are among Red Hat's UK customers.
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