Linux is moving to the core of business and is now considered a suitable candidate for deployments of business-critical workloads, according to a new IDC white paper authored by Al Gillen, program vice president, system software, IDC. Linux is the fastest growing operating system in terms of percentage growth of new unit subscriptions as well as revenue growth, making it evident that customers see its business value.
"We have been watching this trend play out for a fair number of years," states Gillen in a recent interview with Linux Executive Report from IBM, observing, "It has probably been in the last 4-plus years that Linux has been making this transition."
Factors in the growing acceptance of Linux include the availability of multiple Linux distributions and the availability of Linux on a range of hardware architectures, and in fact Linux is "arguably the most broadly ported operating system that has ever existed," the report states. Many companies have two types of distributions at their sites, mixing unpaid, community supported versions with complementary, commercially supported versions, although the IDC report points out that a key benefit to organizations in using commercial subscriptions to support Linux distributions is that support staff can focus on the business at hand rather than working to support the Linux kernel directly, particularly the case for Linux servers supporting business-critical workloads.
Reflecting on the growing deployment of Linux for business-critical workloads, Gillen tells Linux Executive Report that a big part of what has made this possible is the availability of enterprise-grade distributions of Linux, such as SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Additionally, since 2002-2003, the hardware that customers are acquiring to deploy with their Linux operating systems has increasingly tended to be more business-oriented, he adds. "Customers are buying more enterprise-class servers for Linux on a proportional basis for Linux than they had in the past, but the other thing is that these systems are increasingly larger scale in nature. One of the things that is certainly reflective of that is IBM's business around the System z, where we have seen customers that have moved to embrace the System z for Linux as one of their primary deployed operating systems."
The main workload for Linux continues to be infrastructure services, with web infrastructure and IT infrastructure services representing more than half of Linux shipments, according to the white paper, but a growing area is business-oriented workloads. According to the report, business processing, including important enterprise applications such as ERP and CRM, grew from 3.3% in 2000 to about 9% in 2007 and 2008; and the share of decision support has increased from 6.3% to 9.2% in the same time period. This growth in commercial workloads represents "a natural evolution," according to the IDC white paper, "that was not possible until basic infrastructure was in place to support those applications."
To hear more from Al Gillen, the author of the IDC white paper, "Linux in the Mainstream: Growing Deployment of Business-Critical Workloads," register for IBM's June 17 webcast: Lower TCO for Business Critical Workloads with Linux and IBM.