Enterprise Initiatives

This blog focuses on Enterprise IT topics such as Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Change Management, Business Process Management, and recaps various technology events and news.



One of the most popular discussions in the blogosphere is the topic of how Linux is posed to start taking market share from Microsoft in the battle of the desktops. What I don't see being discussed too much anymore is how dominating Linux is becoming in the middle tier and backend server space. Not only has Linux been killing Windows in this area but it is also killing mainframes, Unix, and is a favorite choice for grid computing.

Grid computing is an area where Linux makes the most sense to me. Companies like Google and Paypal are clustering thousands of cheap nodes or blades without having to pay a few hundred bucks per node or processor in operating system licensing fees. These companies are also taking advantage of the available source code and making tweaks to customize performance and security to meet their needs. Check out this article about how Paypal leveraged 4000 Linux nodes running RedHat and eliminated the need for an expensive mainframe. Here is a key quote from this article...

In a mainframe environment, the cost to increase capacity a planned 15% or 20% "is enormous. It could be in the tens of millions to do a step increase. In [PayPal's] world, we add hundreds of servers in the course of a couple of nights and the cost is in the thousands, not millions.
I can personally speak to a real life business case for Linux. About eight years ago I worked on a project that had incredible data processing requirements. At that time, the only database technology that existed in the market place that even had the potential to meet our performance requirements was Teradata. They gave us a quote of $34M for the solution which was comprised of proprietary hardware and software. Back then, our entire IT budget was less then $34M. So we built our own solution which ran on a cluster of servers running Red Hat Linux for $100K. Throw in our labor and other fees and we spent close to $1M. What is more amazing is that we did not add a single employee to the staff to run the system since the system is self monitoring and self healing. With the Taradata solution we would have had to add DBA resources. This system is still running today and provides services for a product that generates over $100M a year.

I also stumbled across another article where IT shops are moving off of Unix to Linux for cost savings. A key take away from this article is this quote...
Linux is the best-engineered, most interoperable platform for enterprise computing and is becoming the clear choice for organisations.
So we can debate all day whether Linux is the real deal on the desktop, but in the server world, Linux is king. The irony to me is eight years ago when I was proposing Linux servers (before Linux was cool!), I was getting the same push back and resentment that Linux on the desktop is receiving today. I am sure that three or four years from now I can dig out this post and joke about how people used to fight Linux on the desktop.

2 comments

  1. Anonymous  

    agreed that Linux in the server would is king.

    I just don't see home users leaving the windows gui to start using a watered down gui in Linux and also trying to learn using a bash/equivalent command line.

    Most small companies will stick with Windows, but sure enough once they start to grow and cost IS a factor they will switch over.

  2. The Open Sourcerer  

    How is a fully 3D desktop "watered down"? You can get more eye-candy with Open Source.

    The latest Linux distros are easier to use, easier to maintain/upgrade and are better looking than any Windows Desktop.

    Just google for some YouTube videos of Compiz-Fusion and see what I mean. Or, if you want to work in a different way - look at Metisse. And there are other new ideas too.

    Of course, the other big benefit of an Open Source desktop is if you PC can't hack a full blown 3D, you have a choice; of many alternative interfaces. Not so with M$.

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