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Linux Process, Not Tech, Biggest Hurdle

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Neither SCO Group's copyright claims on select Linux code nor Microsoft will be able to slow the spread of Linux in the enterprise over the next two years, an analyst for Gartner Research said.

The biggest hurdles to greater Linux enterprise penetration are process-based, according to George Weiss.

In a conference call sponsored by Unisys, Gartner's Weiss said five "process" issues could potentially inhibit Linux's continued movement up the enterprise pyramid.

They include: the potential for multiple source code distribution to cause fragmentation; higher support costs that increase total cost of ownership (TCO) with demanding workloads; OSS licenses that could proliferate beyond users' abilities to manage them; frequent open source software releases that create potential compatibility dependency issues, and potential patent and copyright issue exposure that could raise risk management concerns.

However, despite these issues, Gartner Research data also shows that more enterprises expect to make Linux their next strategic focus.

Linux is moving up the enterprise pyramid from non-mission critical network edge functions, to mission critical deployment, he noted in a presentation titled, "Enterprise Linux: Will Adolescence Yield to Maturity?"

In terms of focus, Network edge came in first at 31 percent in the survey's results about Linux usage, followed by Web Servers and Data center/mission critical at 18 percent. Application servers were a focus for 13 percent of respondents and computing clusters were cited by 12 percent of the survey's respondents.

"It's probably more than likely that UNIX will decline and will be pushed up into a mission-critical or mainframe focus in the enterprise, for databases and for large and very demanding workloads" over the next five years, Weiss said.

"For the part of the market where we're talking about mid-range applications, where you've got 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 and possibly 32-way, there will be a major tug of war between Linux on one hand and Windows on the other."

Linux will also likely erode software margins and continue to drive subscription pricing. Gartner also said he expects Linux to become a significant presence in more than 60 percent of data centers. Just don't expect all that Linux activity to lead to large migrations from either Windows servers or Windows desktop, he added.

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