Dual Core Dueling
Several analysts predict that the introduction of multicore processors will shake up the market. Enck expects this to lead to a new price/performance point in the x86 server market in particular.
Others, though, foresee problems arising from dual-core Intel at the licensing level.
“The software vendors refuse to get their act together and will insist on charging as if these dual cores are two processors,” Enck said. “With the sum of the parts only being around 1.6 to 1.8 rather than 2, the buyers will figures out they are again being fleeced, and that will lead to different software models being tried out by the software guys.”
A few years ago, Web servers and application servers were very different animals. That has been shifting slowly, and in 2005 it will change even more.
“We are definitely seeing Web servers, application servers, and integration servers [combine] into one product,” said Dennis Byron, an analyst at IDC. “This won’t be completely done by 2005, as the server battleship doesn’t complete a maneuver in one year, but it is gathering momentum.”
He sees this trend spilling into the open source market. As more vendors introduce Linux products, they will have to find ways to differentiate their wares. An obvious way to do this is by adding more tools. A transaction monitor built into an application server, for example, might enable some organizations to cut costs by getting off CICS or Tuxedo.
The operating system may become something of an anachronism. After all, the application needs only a JVM to run, and a JVM on silicon removes many layers of code and possible frailty from the overall equation.
Virtualization is also enabling this to happen. Here, vendors like IBM and BMC are working intently on technologies that drill down to the hardware itself. This results in being able to rapidly provision and de-provision hardware with the correct operating system and application server stack.
“IBM and BMC say they are close to bringing this down to a couple of minutes,” said Longbottom. “If they achieve that, the virtualization of the Intel-based server environment will follow rapidly.”
The End of Operating System Differentiation
Will 2005 finally be the year that Linux makes a serious dent in the current Windopoly? Most analysts expect Linux to continue to gain ground in the server space. But some anticipate some more problems for open source as it strives to capture market share from Windows and Unix.
“Some Linux deployments haven’t gone well, and that may result in some pull back from the platform,” said Rob Enderle, an analyst with Enderle Group. “The next two years will be a knock-down, drag-out fight between Windows and Linux and will set the stage for a very interesting 2007, when Microsoft’s next-generation server platform is expected to debut.”
By then, though, might the operating system be playing a less important role in IT overall?
Longbottom see this as a distinct possibility based on the fact that today’s applications are being written with an application server platform in mind. As a result, the operating system may become something of an anachronism. After all, the application needs only a JVM to run, and a JVM on silicon removes many layers of code and possible frailty from the overall equation.
“There is a possibility that we may see the first signs of the death of the operating system in 2005,” concludes Longbottom.