: Linux may now be enterprise-ready, but don't expect huge savings.
The open source operating system may be emerging into the enterprise sunlight, escaping the darkened geek-inhabited labs that have been its home for the last ten years, but the oft-hyped cost advantage may be less clear cut than it might appear.
Ovum research director, Gary Barnett, said that over the last six months, Linux has seen plenty of mainstream adoption. Both IBM and Hewlett Packard have said that the OS will become a central part of their future strategies.
But while any glance at comments in the code will show that the geeks are still playing a key role, it's now the big players that are pouring millions into development to make it enterprise ready.
Barnett said that most of the adoption has been as a host for Apache. "It patently works - it does what it says on the tin," he said, "and the successive evolutions have all been in the right direction."
But he warned that some claims made by the vendors are unsupportable. The apps aren't there for it to be a viable desktop alternative. "Why abandon Microsoft Office for StarOffice?" he asks.
And the perceived cost advantage is also less easy to distinguish that might first appear, explained the analyst.
"Will the fact that Linux is nominally free prove an attraction in these budget-constrained times?" he said.
"People don't buy an operating system in isolation, they buy it as part of a hardware or solution purchase. If you're spending millions on an SAP deployment, the operating-system cost is trivial."
When looking at the Total Cost of Ownership, the operating system forms just part of the solution.
Barnett concludes that Linux is destined to stay on the server: "It's a fine Unix variant and Unix people take to it like ducks to water," he said.
And in the long run, Linux will succeed where initiatives like the Open Group have failed for 20 years, by consolidating the Unix market. A warning to all hardware vendors to get a Linux strategy sharpish, or risk falling by the wayside.
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