Linux is not yet ready for enterprise use and will not be for a some time, but it useful for vendor management purposes, according to Jonathan Eunice, president of research firm, Illuminata.
And while Open Source software licensing can be helpful, it is not a magical nirvana that can solve all of an organisations' problems despite the glowing endorsements of advocates, which should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Eunice explained his rationale at the Open Source Forum in Austin, Texas, this week. "Open source is like building a house yourself, and with Linux, it's like saying you build it yourself and I'll give you the materials for free. If that changes your point of view on things, then Linux makes sense, but it frequently doesn't make sense in an enterprise because IT managers don't have time to do it," he said.
He added: "Mostly Linux is not there. It may be over a long period of time, but it won't be this year and its enterprise readiness is so-so. But it is a good way to manage vendors and when Microsoft, IBM or Hewlett-Packard come to call, it's useful to have a few licenses around."
While Linux worked well as a network server, a development workstation, and inside an embedded system, it could not compete with the mainframe or even commercial Unixes such as Sun and Hewlett-Packard's, he claimed.
It could only scale to between one and two processors and maybe even four at a push, while other Unixes could easily run on 16-32 processor machines. It had no clustering support, and while support services were insipient, there was a tremendous gap between service level agreements and what Linux could offer, Eunice continued.
This meant that users had to evaluate whether their own IT departments were up to bridging the gap with regards to supporting the operating system (OS), and they needed to avoid focusing on cost issues because time and risk factors were generally the most crucial.<> IT managers also had to bear in mind that Linux was complex and that development contributions from the hacker community were random and based on their own interests rather than those of commercial organisations.
As a result, very few hackers were motivated to fix bugs and were unlikely to be interested in helping enterprises customise the offering to fit their own internal processes.
"If time is precious and you think you may not have the necessary skills handy, you should pay for your OS. Enterprises shouldn't be religious about it, but agnostic," he concluded.
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