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Linux gains ground on the server platform

The open-source operating system is becoming ever more popular, but is the region ready.

A new study from International Data Corp (IDC) shows that Linux is rapidly gaining in popularity for the server market.

But while the number of Linux-based machines being deployed is set to rise, Microsoft will still lead the market on revenues.

The open-source operating system overtook Novell Netware last year to become the second most popular server OS, although Microsoft Windows NT still has the lead. IDC predicts that Linux shipments will continue to grow this by 28% from 1.3 million in 1999 to 4.7 million in 2004.

Overall, shipments in the server market are predicted to grow by 17% over the period, although revenues will only increase by 1%.

This is partly due to the increase in popularity of low-cost Linux and partly due to the fact that many new operating system sales will be upgrades rather than full implementations.

Linux is also set to make more of an impact away from entry level servers, with the development of versions for more large-scale servers.

Red Hat, TurboLinux and Mission Critical Linux have all invested heavily in developing clustering software for large-scale deployments.

But the Unix market is less optimistic about Linux growth in the Middle East. “There is interest in Linux here, a huge interest from universities and education centres, but it is just interest,” said Dr Ezio Lucenti, RS/6000 Business Product Manager for IBM.

“We haven’t perceived a complete need from customers – the Middle East is still banking on NT for small servers. There is also a lack of support and lack of local skills for Linux, these will definitely come, it is just a matter of time.”

Abie Fullard of Sun Microsystems Dubai told Arabian Computer News: “Linux will be big, as the free software is always a big ticket item. But it takes years to make a server operating system ready for mission critical applications - ask Microsoft, so it will take a while before it unseats Unix in that segment.

"Another downside is that most corporations are not sure of where and by whom all the patches of Linux are put together and who takes responsibility for the support of new features. But it will be a formidable challenge to Unix as well as to Windows in the future.”

For more information see www.idc.com

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