Linux operating system server shipments are forecast to be on a high growth
track, which is likely to convince Microsoft
moving some of its proprietary application enablers to the Linux
environment by 2004, according to research firm META Group.
Microsoft has not made a definitive answer one way or the other. “Microsoft will not be engineering server software expressly for Linux, and continues to make its strategic bets on the Windows platform,” a Microsoft spokesperson told internetnews.com Tuesday afternoon.
predictions indicate that Linux on the server is currently more of a threat
to UNIX than to Windows. The rising tide of Linux shipments (the OS
currently commands between 15 percent and 20 percent of shipments, and is
expected to be on 45 percent of new servers by 2006/2007, according to
META) is likely to make the OS an attractive market for Microsoft.
META predicted that by late 2004, Microsoft will begin moving application
enablers like .NET components to the Linux environment, and will follow-up
gradually with major back-office products like SQL Server, IIS and
“We also believe Microsoft will reprice and/or separate the Windows server
OS (e.g., into kernel and “add-on” components), so it can be favorably
compared against “free” Linux,” META said Monday. “As a result of Linux’s
growing market share, and the support of IBM, Oracle, HP, Dell, et al., we
believe systems management, networking, application development, and
applications in general will increasingly be available on Linux platforms
during the next 12-18 months.”
META said Linux is more likely to cannibalize UNIX sales rather than
Windows sales, at least at first, because the total cost of ownership of
Linux servers remains higher than that of Windows servers.
“The Linux OS itself is nominally free, but data center-ready Linux
distributions (e.g., RedHat, SuSE) are not,” according to META analyst
Brian Richardson, who focuses on Server Infrastructure Strategies. “Our
research indicates that the most significant cost differences are between
RISC and Intel server hardware, and between DBMSs (Oracle on Linux vs. SQL
Server on Windows). Other “Lintel” versus “Wintel” costs are about the same
(e.g., storage, servers, middleware, applications, support), but Linux
“shadow” IT costs will likely be higher. Until 2004, we believe Linux will
be a larger threat to UNIX (particularly Solaris) than to Windows.”
Unsurprisingly, Microsoft agreed with that assessment. “Windows provides greater business value and lower long-term costs for customers than competing platforms, including Linux,” the spokesperson said.
In fact, while Linux is expected to increase its penetration in the
enterprise data center — from 3 percent currently to 11 percent in 2007 —
Windows will also be moving in, reaching 38 percent by 2007, as compared to
Unix, with 40 percent and zOS with 11 percent.
“Our analysis indicates that, by 2012, driven by Intel platform economics,
Linux will grow to a 26 percent presence (Windows will move to 51 percent;
UNIX and zOS will contract to 20 percent and 3 percent, respectively), said
Rich Evans, Enterprise Data Center Strategies, META Group.
Indeed, Evans predicted that of all the players, Intel will be the true
“Reflecting the market’s continued drive for cost-effective hardware,
2007-2012 platform demographics will reflect Intel’s expanded dominance
(from 54 percent to 82 percent) at the expense of both RISC (falling from
35 percent to 15 percent) and CISC (IBM’s complex instruction set
computers — falling from 11 percent to 3 percent),” he said.