LinuxWorld highlights growing enterprise role

If there was any doubt about whether Linux is gaining ground in enterprise data centers, this month’s LinuxWorld in San Francisco put that to rest. Consider this: Microsoft led a session.

That session, titled, “Managing Linux in a Mixed Environment…at Microsoft?”, led by Bill Hilf, director of Microsoft’s platform technology strategy organization, was just one of several sessions and workshops that looked at how Linux fits into an overall data center architecture.

Microsoft’s role at the show highlights the growing maturity of Linux, analysts said. Rather than helping IT managers decide if Linux fits in their environments, the show now is more geared to where the operating system fits and what open source products best fit on top of it. Talk also centred on beefing up security for Linux, running Linux in virtualized and grid environments, and enhancing management tools for Linux.

The growing interest from vendors and customers illustrates the evolution of Linux into a mainstream operating system, analysts said. According to a Forrester Research study, Linux ranks third, behind Windows Server 2000/2003 and IBM z/OS, as an operating system that respondents consider strategic. And 26 of the 56 respondents in the May survey said they are using Linux in their data centres.

“At this point, Linux is a done deal,” said Michael Goulde, an analyst at Forrester. IT managers “are going to see what they can do with Linux and open source and how to expand their use of it, rather than just looking at how they can initially adopt it.”

IT managers attending the show also got a look at how the Linux community is hoping to grow. Novell, for example, announced that it will open up a version of its SuSE Linux to users and developers. The goal of the OpenSuSE project is to expand the adoption of Linux by making it more easily accessible, said Greg Mancusi-Ungaro, director of marketing for Linux and open source at Novell.

“The reason we launched the project is that we’re trying to help drive Linux adoption everywhere. We’re trying to raise the needle of Linux usage worldwide,” he says. “We talked to Linux users and Linux developers and we’re hearing that it’s still very hard to get Linux unless you’re a technical user. We want to change the dynamic and make it much easier to get Linux.”

Similar to Red Hat’s Fedora project, OpenSuSE will give users and developers access to operating system code to create a transparent and open development environment, Novell said.

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