Enterprise Unix Roundup: Disruption in the OS Market? Hardly

By Brian Proffitt (Send Email)
Posted May 28, 2008


Perhaps you've been unsettled by the singular message of change espoused by every U.S. Presidential candidate this election season; or maybe you were disturbed when Dick York replaced Dick Sargent as Darrin on "Bewitched"; or you just don't like chocolate in your peanut butter. A new report from Gartner on the operating system market promises to reveal big changes in that sector in coming years. Except it looks like the roadmap we've predicted all along.

If you are someone like this who just likes the status quo, then the theme of the recent report from Gartner outlining the future of the operating system (OS) market may be a bit unsettling to you: Increased disruption lies ahead, and there doesn't seem to be any way to stop it.

Actually, you can come out from under the covers now. It's really not that bad, based on the announcement that came out announcing the report, "Market Trends: Operating Systems Software, Worldwide, 2007-2012." The changes Gartner highlights have been going on or have been known for a long time, which leads me to wonder if the constant change is merely just status quo.

The first big change the report cites is the ongoing Unix-to-Linux migration that's set to continue for the next few years.

"Unix to Linux substitutions, users' behaviours, disruptive technology and anti-piracy endeavors will continue to shape the market and change the market dynamics," Matthew Cheung, senior research analyst at Gartner was quoted in the announcement. Cheung went on to indicate that Linux is still the fastest growing segment of the server market "and that Linux continues to substitute Unix in the server OS market because its cost-to-performance ratio, high availability of support resources and consequent lower cost of ownership appeals to users."

Not exactly a surprise. Nor was the announcement's claim that virtualization would also prove to be disruptive to the server market in the near- to mid-term future.

I know, scary accurate isn't it? It's like predicting the sun will come up tomorrow.

I realize the meat of these reports is contained in the actual report, which is priced at $2,495, but seriously, is this worth that price tag?

The big shocker: The end of life for XP in June will bring a boost to Vista sales, thus disrupting the desktop segment of the OS market. Barring, of course, a recession in the United States and a surge in application-based appliances.

Okay, the XP stuff is pretty obvious, but this is the first time I've seen appliance devices formally mentioned as potential disrupters to the desktop field.

The announcement also went on to cite government initiatives to support open source as a potential boost to Linux desktop sales. Kind of saw that one coming too, but this is a rare instance to see it put in print and not mentioned off-the-record while the source looks furtively over its shoulder for Microsoft agents.

While I tease about the "shock value" of this report, in all seriousness, it actually serves to confirm there are no real surprises coming in the OS world. It's all going pretty much as predicted: a slow and inexorable march toward virtualized and commoditized platforms.

Only now, perhaps, with a sprinkling of appliances on top.

Brian Proffitt is managing editor of JupiterWeb's Linux/Open Source channel, which includes Linux Today, LinuxPlanet, and AllLinuxDevices.

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