Google's Android boosts enterprise mobile Linux

The clout of Google and its partners in the Android mobile platform could finally provide the stable, viable Linux option enterprise IT managers have been waiting for

If LiMo and other industry consortiums, such as Consumer Electronics Linux Forum (CELF), Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum, and OpenMoko, can work in partnership with the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), the expert maintains that benefits for the mobile device and applications development markets could be significant.

"This creates a chance for applications developers, especially those in the enterprise, to have a stable, reliable mobile platform based in the technical foundations of Linux with which they re already comfortable," said Bruggeman. "Fragmentation has always been the biggest barrier to adoption; it's a great day for Linux and for all these different efforts to consolidate around a common mobile platform."

The executive denied the claim made by Greengart and other analysts that the LiMo consortium had "fallen flat" in its efforts, pointing out that the group is less than a year old.

LiMo was important in that it was the first mobile Linux consortium that involved carriers in the standards process, which he cited as one of the most promising traits of Google's OHA effort moving forward.

Other Linux software providers echoed Bruggemen's comments, calling the Google announcement one of the keys to making the open-source development language a bigger player on the mobile landscape.

One of the biggest criticisms that rival mobile OS providers, such as Microsoft and Symbian, could aim at Linux was the fact that applications developers couldn't afford to deal with the huge variety of flavors of the open-source platform that have found their way into devices.

"Phone makers looked at Linux and could see that it was easier and more profitable to go with Windows mobile or Symbian, but now, you can put Linux in the same ballpark in terms of the completeness of the solution," said Jim Ready, CTO at MonteVista, a maker of Linux development platforms.

"It's still hard to do this development with the level of high-quality and performance that enterprise businesses expect. This won't make it easy for small developers to get in the game, but it will help," Ready said. "But at least now Linux can stand toe-to-toe with these other platforms in terms of breadth of environment."

In the face of all the optimism being espoused by other market watches, at least one analyst said that an oft-cited perception about Linux -- it's potentially weak security when compared to other platforms -- may still provide a sticking point for enterprises.

"Enterprise won't be the primary market for a lot of these efforts, and the security of a Linux-based handheld might be one of the reasons for that," said Maribel Lopez, analyst with Forrester Research. "Microsoft is already getting grief over whether its smartphones are secure enough for the enterprise, and I have to believe that any other OS will face the same questions. Hardcore enterprises will probably be the most skeptical about the initial security considerations."

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Matt Hines

InfoWorld

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