While 2005 saw the adoption of Linux by the enterprise segment
in the mission-critical space, 2006 will see an increased acceptance of open
source software, predicts Shivani Shinde
the top ten trends and predictions for 2006, Gartner sees open source software
(OSS) competing directly with commercial software in many segments of the enterprise
market, and taking on an expanded role in the small-to-medium business sector.
With OSS adoption rising rapidly, particularly in China and India, Gartner believes
that by 2010 it will account for 20 percent of the global software market, displacing
over $100 billion in revenues from traditional software vendors.
It is no longer relevant to ask if IT organisations
will shift to a strategy of maximising the value of open source. Organisations
and vendors that ignore the potential threats and opportunities of OSS will
increasingly find themselves at a competitive disadvantage, predicts Dion
Wiggins, Vice-president and Research Director at Gartner.
"According to our estimates, Linux has witnessed an annual growth
rate of more than 50 percent in 2005, and we expect strong growth in 2006
Enterprise Systems Research
Adds his colleague Naveen Mishra, Senior Analyst, Enterprise
Systems Research, According to our estimates, Linux has witnessed an annual
growth rate of more than 50 percent in 2005, and we expect strong growth in
2006 as well.
Linux on the rise
Everyone will (or should) agree that Linux has moved away
from the geeks room to the corporate boardroom. Though the figures are
yet to catch up with the big daddies of the server business, Linux has surely
arrived. The primary reason is its cost-effectiveness and manageability.
The Linux server market that grew to $75 million in 2005
by factor revenues will continue to grow in 2006 as well.
Verticals such as High Power Computer, oil & gas, and
manufacturing are driving this market, but the biggest push has come from the
governmentthe department of information technology has already introduced
Linux and open source software in educational institutions.
Even if we move away from the enterprise segment and look
at end-consumers, the adoption of Linux is on the rise. Most of the Rs sub-10,000
computers on offer have a Linux OS.
Linux was always regarded and accepted as a technically superior
platform; what restricted it to the techies room was the absence of applications
and industry support. Once these began there has been a steady acceptance of
Linux for mission-critical deployments. Thus, with giants like Oracle and SAP
providing applications on Linux, its acceptability has grown.
Sandeep Menon, Director, Linux Business, Novell, West Asia,
agrees that industry support has been a key factor in the growth of Linux and
says, This is surely one of the reasons. But we need to understand why
the industry supports it. The fact is that most of these players are market-savvy,
and recognise a trend early, especially when the pull is coming from their customers.
He feels that Linux can drive development costs down significantly
by allowing firms to develop the primary version of their application releases
on Linux, which can then be transferred and tested across hardware architectures.
This works strongly in favour of Linux. Next, supporting Linux gives a strategic
advantage to many of these players who may see traditional OS vendors as competition
in the near or long term.
Mishra feels that Linux will see better days, but that it
will take some more time. Linux has traditionally been known as an edge
server, but it is certainly moving towards databases and application platforms.
Though it will take some time for Linux to take on other servers, the shift
is happening globally, he adds.
Sachin Dabir, Head, Enterprise Sales, Red Hat India points
out that with the support from the industry, the end-user is getting more comfortable
using Linux as now he can see a clear roadmap in terms of growth and future
upgradations. According to a market study, Linux on the server side had
about 20 percent of marketshare in 2005, he says.
customers that weve surveyed prefer integrated deployable solutions
that can run on commodity
standard platforms (like Linux) that are
priced on the
Linux Product Line Manager
"Red Hat is working with some organisations in adopting open source
software, helping them understand how OSS can be compatible with
commercial software and still get performance"
Head, Enterprise Sales
Red Hat India
Andy Fenselau, Linux Product Line Manager, Symantec, believes
that open source solutions continue to make great progress on point features
and overall quality. Linux in particular shows all the hallmarksand
some of the growing painsof the fastest-maturing operating system in history. The
great synergies of the 64-bit 2.6 kernel-based distributions, 64-bit commodity
hardware platforms, enterprise-class support and certifications, and increasingly
complete solution stacksincluding commercial, non-open source applications
like SAP and Oracle make open source Linux increasingly ready for full
production, mission-critical workloads, declares Fenselau.
With 64-bit taking centre-stage and catching enterprise attention,
competition is getting really stiff. 64-bit software has traditionally been
run on RISC servers over various Unix flavours. Indian enterprises have predominantly
used RISC-based servers for mission-critical deployments. The recent entrant
in this segment has been Microsoft.
You would wonder why we are talking about 64-bit platforms.
This is where the Linux players are trying to gain marketshare by taking some
space from Unix vendors due to the similarities between Linux and commercial
Explains Menon, We would not say that this is only
in the RISC environment. Over the years, there emerged customers who were ready
to work with both CISC and RISC chipsets in different environments. However,
what was really not working was the availability of a true enterprise-architectured,
scientifically-developed OS alternative that could be deployed across both architectures
in conditions that required high degrees of robustness, scalability and security.
This was the space filled by Linux; it came in at just the
right time and filled the gap perfectly. Notes Menon, This led to both
64-bit CISC-Linux deployments and RISC-Linux deployments as well as mixed environments
running the same kernel of SUSE. Suddenly there was much more choice available
to customers, depending on their computing needs and available budgets.
Dabir adds, In India what we have seen are not replacements,
but additions, wherein they prefer to go in for Linux.
Open source software
If Linux is trying to get into the crowded server market,
in the software segment it might not be that tough a job. This is a segment
which has been described as best-suited for the SMBs. Not for long though.
Organisations are realising that whatever software they choose,
they end up paying huge sums on upgradations, licences and maintenance. However,
it would be a different story if these organisations could have software that
would adhere to their roadmap.
According to Dabir, Organisations are looking for more
from the open source community. Red Hat is working with some organisations in
adopting open source software, helping them understand how OSS can be compatible
with commercial software and still get performance. They are also looking at
options which do not make them stick to OSS as the only option but allow them
"The advantage of OSS is that it is cost-effective, and
this matters since
organisations are looking for options. After all, software licencing is
a major concern"
Messaging and Security
He says that considering trends Red Hat has been incorporating
missing elements in the OSS. He adds, Earlier some applications were not
available on OS such as directory servers or high availability cluster software.
We went ahead and acquired these and incorporated them in the OSS.
Netcore has been one of the companies offering solutions
on open source standards, and has been quite successful. Their software is being
run in at least 800+ locations with 500+ customers encompassing corporates and
Kalpit Jain, Business Head, Messaging and Security, Netcore
Solutions explains, The advantage of OSS is that it is cost-effective,
and this matters since organisations are looking for options. After all, software
licencing is of major concern. Manageability, reliability and scalability are
some other reasons why any OSS makes sense.
To which Fenselau adds, Open source is merely another
method for providing customers the overall mix of advantages in cost, control,
and choice. Indeed, most enterprise customers that weve surveyed
prefer integrated deployable solutions that can run on commodity standard platforms
(like Linux) that are priced on the subscription model.
He says that its all about enabling the lowest
possible total cost of ownershipincluding hardware, software, support,
training and standardisationwhile managing the complexity and risk factors. The
trends of open source and freeware (subscription/support-based offerings) are
real and important enablers of this end-game. All vendors, including Symantec,
must actively integrate such market drivers into their product strategies in
the coming years.
Symantecs suite of storage management, enterprise data
protection, and high availability solutions now extend to Linux environments.
These solutions enhance Linux for the enterprise because they simplify and lower
the cost of storage management, and boost the performance and availability of
data and applications.
- Mani Mulki, VP, Information Systems, Godrej
Linux should be not be chosen because it is free but because it
makes good business sense. There is a myth that Linux is free, but
nothing comes free. For the enterprise a source code makes no difference.
Yes, open source would be useful for educational institutes where
they do a lot of development work, or for the Government sector as
they want to have an operating system that can be customised and fine-tuned.
As a CIO I do not want to customise the operating system and the
application. I would definitely not like to do that. If I do that
I would have hundreds of versions of the same operating system running.
Where would I find the service and support?
We do use Linux for firewalls, our networks too have Linux. Hence
I say you need to have judgement and clear understanding about the
usage of Linux.
- Pritesh Thaker, Assistant VP, IT, UTI Bank,
whose call centre uses Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the platform with
Oracle 11i E Business Suite software:
We chose Red Hat Linux as the platform
because it ensured transparency and was a perfect match for the Oracle
business suite. We had faith in the open source platform as we had
earlier used it with good results. Now it gives the bank good performance,
security and flexibility which are critical for the success of the
- Arup Choudhury, GM, IT, Eveready Industries.
For its mission-critical ERP, the company chose Linux server software
from Red Hat:
We deployed Linux on account of its compatibility with other applications
that we were planning to install. The other reason to deploy Linux-based
servers was the fact that we were using Unix. We had seen the benefits
of using Red Hat Enterprise Linux for the mail proxy in 2002. Eveready
was convinced that the solution was reliable and powerful enough to
run its mission-critical ERP infrastructure.
In my opinion Linux servers are on par with any other stable operating
system. In terms of security, the Linux kernel is difficult to crack.
And there are no support issues.
However, I do not see Linux coming on to the desktop level as users
are very comfortable with Microsoft Windows.
OSS gets CIO nod
"Microsoft has benefitted from open source software in the past,
has participated in OSS projects, and feels that OSS will continue to
have an important role in the cosystem"
Customer & Partner Experience
As organisations are scaling up they want options that do
not restrict them due to licencing policies, thus the push for open standards
This can be easily substantiated by the fact that even Microsoft
is now talking about open source. Listen to Sanjiv Mathur, Director, Customer
and Partner Experience, Microsoft India: Microsoft has benefitted from
open source software in the past, has participated in OSS projects, and feels
that OSS will continue to have an important role in the ecosystem.
For Microsoft, Mathur says that the open source model has
been propagated by its shared source initiative. However, shared source
is not open source. We recognise that open source software has some benefits
such as fostering of the community, improved feedback, and augmented debugging.
Shared source is a balanced approach that allows us to share source code with
customers and partners while maintaining the intellectual property needed to
support a strong software business. Shared source represents a framework of
business value, technical innovation and licencing terms, adds Mathur.
There is no doubt that users are quite comfortable with Linux
servers, but getting it on the desktop is going to be very difficult. Nevertheless,
Dabir feels that Linux on the desktop is quite popular among educational institutions
as it is cheap and allows them to understand the software. He then goes on to
cite the instance of the Supreme Court, LIC (a few users) and Canara Bank (10,000
users) that are using Linux at the desktop.
Need for open source
All enterprise data centres are wrestling with three fundamental
issues these days: cost, complexity and risk. The multiplicitysome
customers have counted over 100 distinct tools across all the platforms in their
data centresof separate tools for open source Linux vs Solaris vs Windows
vs AIX vs HPUX server and storage platforms absolutely increases complexityand
thus the cost and risk for enterprise customers.
The coming wave of server virtualisation (VMWare, Xen,
etc) adds yet another dimension to this mind-boggling matrix. Thus, open
source solutions need to focus on integrating both functionality and common
centralised management consoles across point tools, opines Fenselau.
(With inputs from Megha Banduni and Vinita Gupta)