Linux faces crucial year

Current discontent among Microsoft customers should prompt users to reconsider alternative operating systems, according to Linux and Unix specialist Caldera.

Kenneth Bergenthal, Asia Pacific managing director for Caldera believes the next 12 months will be key to the growth of Linux in the enterprise space.

"Microsoft's pricing model and IIS server is turning people off. Analysts have said XP will be successful but it will be successful at the expense of its own customers on NT and such."

"I think some [IT managers] will stay with Microsoft and some will diversify and have both in their environment; it is very possible that they can do that. They need to decide what to invest with going forward . . . while protecting their investments. There is nothing wrong with heterogeneous environments as long as they can manage them."

Bergenthal foresees a growth of Linux as a good thing for users and the software and hardware industry.

"If Unix/Linux becomes successful [the software industry] can then go out with their own applications; invent something new. People will then be able to compare who has the best stuff. It will also force Microsoft to step up the quality of its applications."

Linux and Unix currently hold a 41 per cent share of the server market. It is very strong in the Web, Internet, intranet, data hosting and ISP-type of areas.

The credibility of Linux as an alternative operating system has grown of late with a host of vendors, such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Oracle releasing their own versions.

However, Bergenthal does not believe there will be a "breaking out of Linux".

"What you are going to see is the Linux standard base being very strongly supported over the next few months. Linux distribution players and hardware players are all going to get behind it. Even Red Hat will be forced to join some day, they are the only ones that aren't on board. They are trying to segment and their attempt could hurt Linux badly."

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