Small And Medium Businesses Embrace Servers Running Linux

Although we are aware of Linux adoption by large enterprises, most people do not know that there are sizeable numbers of installations in small and medium businesses (SMBs) as well. This base is set to grow as server vendors lob tailor made Linux servers and applications at SMBs.

Country manager, pSeries & Open power, IBM says, "Unlike large enterprises, SMBs do not have to face the challenge of migrating legacy applications. The popularity with SMBs has helped Linux grow at 30 percent globally".

The general consensus is that Linux did better in 2004 than anyone had predicted. Director Enterprise Marketing & alliances, Customers solution Group, HP India says, " As per IDC India, Linux in the server market grew by 48 percent in OND, 2004 over JAS, 2004, while the windows and Unix markets showed a modest 3 percent and 3.4 percent growth respectively during the same period."

For any OS to succeed, applications need to be made available. SMBs can be major draw for Linux servers as it offers them lower TCO and tighter control on their IT spends. Since many SMBs already have home grown applications, a proprietary OS will be the single largest area of spending. It is here that Linux offers a big advantage.

The availability of version 2.6 of the Linux kernel in Red hat Enterprise Linux 4 and Novell's SuSE 9 will give a big boost to vertical scalability. As SMBs become a part of the global supply chain, they want enterprise applications on Linux to keep their investment low. This trend will be a key enabler for the Linux server market worldwide.

Why Linux Based servers?

Cost is a factor and Linux offers better security as the source code of proprietary software is always kept a secret. With a community supporting it, any security hole in Linux is quickly found and patched.

Linux not only lets an organization save on software costs, it also offers long term long term saving on hardware. Instead of being forced to upgrade software with Linux, an SMB can take control of its IT strategy. Chief technology officer of IDBI bank says, "You decide when you wish to upgrade, not the vendor, hence you get tighter control on your spending." This can be particularly important for users, such as SMBs that cannot afford to keep up with the pace of change in commercial software.

Business application and Linux

There is credit to Oracle for driving the Linux server market. During the early part of 2004, Oracle came up with a value offering. It offered pre- configured Oracle E-Business Suite special edition on Lintel Boxes for a 10 user License for $36,000USD. The traction of this offering was seen towards the end of 2004 when we closed a dozen deals that were in various stages of implementation, says General Manager, Oracle India. This is a testimony that SMBs are opting for Linux servers. SAP is following Oracle in making application available on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Customized and certified

All server vendors including HP, IBM and SGI are throwing their weight behind Linux and each has a SMB specific business strategy with significant initiatives to lure them.

HP has announced that some of its high end computing tools from the HP-UX environment are ported onto Linux and made available to SMBs. This includes a clustering solution called HP service guard for high availability of applications and management tools such as Systems insight Manager(SIM) and open view that offer third party integration. Additionally HP is creating a reference architecture stack, including hardware, OS, database and Middleware. HP certifies a stack so that customers can feel more confident on deploying their core business application on Linux. Linux servers are popular in high performance computing(HPC) environments such as research labs.

IBM has recently launched a new family of eserver Openpower systems based on its Power5 processor specially designed for Linux. The Power5 comes with a micropartitioning technology called Virtualisation Engine(VE) wherein each processor can be sliced into ten virtual partitions with each partition acting as a new server. IBM's eserver Openpower 710 is a single CPU processor with 3 HDDs and 512 MB memory with RAID level 1 and 5. This eserver offers SMBs an affordable alternative to higher priced entry level Unix or Linux system. Openpower offers a 64bit platform at a price point of a 32 bit offering. We believe that it is the right product for the mass market.

Sun Microsystems has the Sun fire V20 and V40 severs based on the 64 bit AMD Opteron processor, which has been successful with SMBs. It also offers the Solaris 10 Opetron combination. Sun is aiming to position Solaris 10 as its trump card to take the fight to commercial Linux with support - email, phone and onsite - available at a small price. Advanced scientific research, elite foods, Sage Design systems, Centre for DNA fingerprinting and diagnostics, are Sun customers running there core application on Linux.

Linux servers are used by SMBs for CAD analysis, CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and FEA(Finite Element Analysis). Linux systems are rugged as they come with SGI Propack over and above the standard Linux Kernel. This gives customers the ability to scale there computing environments with independent I/O, memory and power supply.

Banking on Support

Linux is getting traction and getting into commercial business applications in verticals such as manufacturing, small banking and hospitality. Availability of tally o Linux will result in a new chapter being inked in the Linux server market. Red hat has 950 ISV partners who develop applications that run on its Linux distributions. Linux offers secure and scalable solutions to meet SMB requirements. IBM has 35 to 40 pure Linux partners that offers consultancy and assist it in integrating and implementing services for its customers who are using Linux.

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