Toward the end of the year, even the New York Stock Exchange adopted GNU/Linux as a server platform. It also talked about its decision openly in the press and this story served as an excellent sign of validation.
There are many other success stories that could be covered. Consider rendering farms and studios in Hollywood where Linux enjoys a de facto monopoly, with virtually all desktops and servers running Linux underneath a proprietary software stack. The application layer often hides an underlying embodiment of openness and freedom, which sits just 'under the hood'. This is one of the least-covered success stories of GNU/Linux and it truly deserves greater attention.
Another class of servers that can be considered separately is the mainframe. IBM leads the way in the area of mainframes, where the use of Linux has become the natural path for most mainframe to follow and evolve along.
Progression is encouraging because IBM recently upgraded the z/VSE mainframe OS to accommodate Linux use in large- and medium-sized businesses. IBM also reported a surge of 390 percent when it comes to the number of sites running Linux in the mainframe. In fact, Linux is said to be driving a revival of mainframes, some of which have been prematurely buried.
In 2007, mainframes were seeing somewhat of a comeback, driven by ISV support from many in the Linux arena. System integrators are involved as well, and the number of supported applications doubled. Earlier last year, an agreement between Oracle and IBM actually helped strengthen mainframe computing. Both companies are known for their love for -- and arguably a dependence on -- GNU/Linux.
One of the more fascinating trends, whose potential was only realized in the past few years, is cloud computing. Large enterprises, including not just technology companies but anything from banks to healthcare, wish to deploy clouds. Such phenomenal deployments could soon reach as far as governments, according to sources.
Due to some of Red Hat's new products, which were introduced only a couple of months ago and are geared towards clouds, questions began to arise about their future collaborators. Will it be Amazon or will it be IBM? Red Hat has already set itself a goal to maintain presence in over half the world's servers by 2015. Free software appears to be at the heart of cloud computing, with companies like Google already taking a lead too. There are other lesser-known contenders to consider, such as Xcerion, whose Internet cloud might quietly mature and help the company grow as rapidly as VMWare.
IBM's Blue Cloud, which is bound to arrive within a few months, will be using BladeCenter servers and run GNU/Linux. It will rely on free software and utilization enhancers such as Xen-based virtualization. On top of it, IBM's Tivoli is expected to run and manage the cloud, so this might not be a case of free software cloud top-to-bottom.
IBM's datacenters are slowly evolving into 'computing clouds' and the significance of this, which is often underestimated, can be compared to the importance of the company's embrace of GNU/Linux many years back. This was seen as a big endorsement (never mind the generous investment) at the time. It also helped Linux rid itself from damaging stereotypes.
In this context, devices would be a large family of mostly embedded software. These tend to be miniature, but they needn't be. Topology of the different devices is probably a subjective matter.
According to a 2007 survey from VDC, Linux is set to grow 278 percent in the domain that includes embedded, mobile and real-time applications. Linux is used very quietly in this area. People often use it without being aware of it. The closed nature of many Linux devices contributes to apathy and several companies are too shy to admit their use of Linux due to potential (sometimes known) GPL violations.
According to another survey from 2007, 87 percent of those who built their devices using Linux plan to use Linux in their next project as well. In other words, only few of those with Linux experience are actually looking elsewhere and assess other options. This indicates great satisfaction from a developer's point-of-view.
Moreover, and further to the study above, the use of free distributions was favored considerably in comparison with paid distributions. Trends indicate that more and more developers escape the dependency on commercialized distributions. This makes everything more affordable and hence attractive to both developers and prospective users.
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