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Linux in the Enterprise Closer Than You Think - page 2

Meeting the Enterprise

  • December 12, 2002
  • By Brian Proffitt

There have been quite a few articles on the topic of what the enterprise needs to properly implement Linux of late. Quite a bit of it is fall-out from that aforementioned forum. The press, I will freely admit, love such affairs because they are usually great places to get a lot of stories in a short amount of time. That, and the free food.

I have watched with some bemusement the overall trend of the articles that are coming out on Linux in the enterprise, and not just the ones from ELF. What Linux needs, these articles intone, is more applications to be successful. If only there were more applications for Linux, pundits and corporate IT people have said, then it could not help but be more successful.

Let's be clear here: they're not talking about just any old application. Given the sheer number of apps and utilities that have been built for the UNIX/Linux space, such requests seem rather absurd. No, what these people want are neatly wrapped pre-packaged applications that will install easily and run without a hitch on their systems with little to no configuration time involved.

The range of these applications is great--from huge databases to little utilities that will tell you what the temperature is outside. Office suites are certainly in there, though there is more concern for what's going on with the servers than with the client. Grid computing is in there as well, ramping up to true supercomputer-speed computing efforts that have already caught the eye of the financial services industry.

Linux can handle all of these things now, of course, but for IT managers that have put all their eggs into the Microsoft basket, the transition to these applications is perceived to be too hard.

This could be argued against. But this is another argument for another time. If there is indeed a real need for applications, however, then there is evidence to suggest that independent software vendors are responding to the call.

Already we have seen companies like Oracle, IBM, Veritas, Steeleye, and SAP jumping into developing applications for the Linux space. According to a study from IDC, the biggest growth in Linux right now is in the area of custom application development. Linux is still big in Web services, according to Jean Bozman, VP of server research at IDC, as well as in security and collaborative workloads. But custom applications development is growing fast.

Are applications going to be the panacea for Linux in the enterprise? Perhaps. When I spoke to Bozman earlier this week, I asked her to highlight the differences between Linux server adoption now and Windows server adoption in the mid- to late-1990s. She related that even though Windows NT was out in 1993, it wasnot until NT 4.0 came out in Augsust of 1996 that things really took off for NT in the server space. The difference, Bozman explained was that NT passed its main competitor Novell not in terms of a network operating system but as an application server.

In other words, she said, it surpassed Novell's application base and therefore became more attractive to IT shops.

There is no denying that applications are a key to success to Linux in the enterprise. But it is not the only key. There are other things the Linux community could do to accelerate the adoption rate.

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