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Linux Growth In The Workplace Slowing 181

Posted by Zonk
from the chugga-chugga dept.
BrainSurgeon writes "According to a Business Week article Linux growth numbers have slowed for the first time since SG Cowen & Co. began tracking it on their survey. The biggest reason for the slow down according is due to the hidden cost of consultants." From the article: "That doesn't mean overall Linux use is slowing. The survey only shows that a smaller number of companies not using Linux plan to try the software than in previous surveys. Most analysts expect Linux use to grow at the companies that have already rolled it out -- and do so at a healthy rate. And analysts say Linux is picking up steam outside North America, which the Cowen survey doesn't cover."
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Linux Growth In The Workplace Slowing

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  • by kukickface (675936)
    that open source software wasn't going to lock anybody in? Now it seems like a "We've spent too much to go back" kind of scenario.
    • "We've spent too much to go back" means that the manager is an idiot and doesn't understand the concept of sunk costs.
    • Re:I thought... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by winkydink (650484) *
      Thsi has nothing to do with open versus closed. The same holds true for any technical architecture investment. Once you've made the investment in time and money, it's vcery expensive to switch, whether it's from closed to open or vice versa.
    • Re:I thought... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrchaotica (681592)
      No, the biggest danger of lock-in is the "We can't go forward [because either or vendor is out of business or they're trying to bleed us dry now that they've got us hooked]." Free Software mostly eliminates those problems, because there's always a new vendor that can take over the management of your current technology.
      • Free Software mostly eliminates those problems, because there's always a new vendor that can take over the management of your current technology.

        That's really not true, you know. If Sun stopped supporting Star/OpenOffice, or the guys at MySQL gave up and went home, I'd give you great odds that it would pretty much kill future development of the corresponding product as well, open source or not. You might get the occasional bug fix or minor patch, but that's probably it.

        The harsh reality is that just

        • by poningru (831416) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @11:51PM (#12754706)
          yeah I am gonna call bull to most of that, That's really not true, you know. If Sun stopped supporting Star/OpenOffice, or the guys at MySQL gave up and went home, I'd give you great odds that it would pretty much kill future development of the corresponding product as well, open source or not. You might get the occasional bug fix or minor patch, but that's probably it. ok lets take examples from history where the company stopped making the software: Netscape, AOL stopped netscape dev and handed it off to mofo now what has happend there? a robust and full growth. Basically you are arguing against the strenght of OSS, forking; even if Sun stops making OOo tommorow guess what you are gonna have the community come forward and take over. Now your comments about docs, the docs are created in a OSS project if the user needs'em for example take a look at great enduser OSS: ubuntu, firefox, etc. they all have greate docs.
          • ok lets take examples from history where the company stopped making the software: Netscape, AOL stopped netscape dev and handed it off to mofo now what has happend there? a robust and full growth.

            Or an entirely new project based around Gecko that happened to use the same name, after several years of effective non-existence while the competition moved on, depending on your perspective.

            Basically you are arguing against the strenght of OSS, forking;

            I'm not arguing against it, I'm simply saying th

      • Free Software mostly eliminates those problems, because there's always a new vendor that can take over the management of your current technology.
        Awesome point! Had that airline invested in a more portable solution, say based on development framework around Apache server, they could have had their pick of the litter for the underlying architecture, including Windows!
    • Re:I thought... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zeebs (577100)
      All aspects of business can suffer this fate. It is not as much a software problem then a "We've spent the money, try and get something back with/from it" problem. Everything a business does costs money so everything can suffer this, even free open source software. You've confused gratis free and libre free.
  • by bc90021 (43730) * <<ten.12009cb> <ta> <12009cb>> on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:20PM (#12751111) Homepage
    Is it slowing too? In which case, this is a sign of overall growth slowing... or is it just a Linux thing?

    • May be windows is kicking its butt [casper.ru]
    • by Dink Paisy (823325) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:32PM (#12751231) Homepage
      In the sense they are reporting, Windows growth has been approximately zero for years. When you have a presences in every company, it's hard to increase the percentage of companies that are considering your software. The article does mention one company switching from Linux to Windows because they can't afford consultants to write Linux applications that their in-house Windows team can write at a third the price, but that is not the main point. The conclusion seems to be that Linux usually comes in as a proprietary UNIX replacement, and most companies with proprietary UNIX systems have already mixed in some Linux as well.
      • Homer: Here's good news! According to this eye-catching article, SAT scores are declining at a slower rate!
      • you're right - it's a kind of bogus article/study "only 7% of companies with no linux experience plan of a linux project in the next year" is one of those meaningless statements that doesn't tell you much unless you know something like "what percentage of all companies have no linux experience?" if it's 1% this isn't news if it's 99% it is.

        It's also a number one would expect to drop over time anyway - think of the early linux adopters as being 'low hanging fruit' over time all the people who know what the

      • Windows Server had 10% [contractoruk.com] increase in units shipped while the market in whole only grew 5%. I know a couple companies that replaced their sun web servers with windows 2003 and IIS6. Lot cheaper to maintain, you can pay some college kid $10/hr to take care of them instead of $100/hr for a consultant. Also considering Windows 2003 web server edition is only ~$375, the initial cost is nothing for a business compared to labor costs.
    • Microsoft - "please buy our latest identical piece software, even if you have it already, we need you, no, you're not buying? that's a criminal offence."
  • With every new annoucenment from MS, it seems someone, somewhere states this.
  • I am not surprised (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Skiron (735617) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:23PM (#12751144) Homepage
    BACK TO MICROSOFT. Take Independence Air, a low-cost Washington (D.C.) carrier that had been running the reservation system on its Web site with Linux. The company, which uses Microsoft's Windows operating systems in most other pieces of its business, needed to hire consultants who could write code for Linux, since its Windows developers couldn't.

    What can 'Windows developers' do? Use a mouse?

    And if this statement is to do with the code running on a web server (Apache, I presume), then even more so I feel they hired the wrong 'developers' to begin with.

    Just more FUD - move along.
    • by jd (1658) <imipak@noSPam.yahoo.com> on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:52PM (#12751444) Homepage Journal
      HTML doesn't vary between servers. (Duh!) Neither does PHP. Cold Fusion could be a problem - but Cold Fusion is always a problem. :)


      Java servlets? Java is Java is Java. Perl is, well, Perl. :) Python is most definitely Python.


      What does that leave? Well, ASP. asp2php and other conversion tools help, but that would need new skills. MySQL and PostgreSQL are different from Access and SQL Server, but the GUI managers out there are plenty good.


      There's the business of configuring Apache, but there are GUI tools for that, too. In fact, between the excellent stand-along GUI tools you can get off Freshmeat, that come with Fedora, or are provided with Webmin, I can't think of much you can't do with Linux in a purely graphical context.


      This means that when people complain that Linux isn't "friendly enough", what they really mean is that they're determined not to like it, that when they complain they can't use it, what they really mean is that they don't want to.


      There's nothing wrong with choosing not to like something, but it is better to be honest about the fact that it often IS a choice and not something intrinsic about the target.

    • by SQLz (564901) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:54PM (#12751468) Homepage Journal
      What can 'Windows developers' do? Use a mouse?

      No, they make programs so other windows people can point and click their way to IT glory.

      Seriously though I agree but it depends. I mean, if you take a VCC guy and ask him for a KDE app, he *SHOULD* be able to do it with a little studying. If the server application in question is just some database interface or server program, the code is 99% the same. Sounds like laziness to me.

    • What BS (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Try getting a job with a company that wants someone with a Unix programming background and tell them you have experience programming for Windows or VMS or some other non-Unix OS. Do you think they might be asking for that experience for a reason?

      Try the reverse. Try landing a job doing Windows programming when you've only had Unix/Linux experience. Again, do you think they might be asking for that experience for a reason?

      • Any developer who is so limited in that manner isn't a very good developer. A good developer should be able to learn a new system quickly enough to program for it.
        • A good developer should be able to learn a new system quickly enough to program for it.

          A really top notch developer with generally wide experience will pick up a new OS/library combination like this well enough to do the basics in a day or two, and then spend the next several weeks learning the subtleties and idioms well enough to actually write good code on that platform.

          An average developer is around an order of magnitude less productive than the guys at top end of the scale.

          At this point, eithe

    • When I read that line it sounded like he needed to hire developers rather than contract out his code.

      Can an army of mouse junkies be considered a means of illegaly maintaining a monopoly?

    • by bluGill (862)

      Many windows developers have never considered the idea that all the world isn't the latest version of Windows running on a 386. (That pointers are the same size as integers, and you have little endian machines) They might have gone for SSE or some such 3d extention, but only if they need it.

      Unix developers tend to target more machines. This results in a lot of little assumptions they get right. They are likely to have played with several different windowing APIs. (Often starting with Motif, but ce

      • Thus Windows developers have more trouble crossing over to Unix, than Unix developers have crossing to Windows.

        This part is true, but your analysis is simplistic. The same type of people who love programming as kids and go for Linux today tended to do their personal projects on DOS/Windows a generation ago for reasons of affordability.

        Many of them are very sophisticated developers today on a platform that has offered extensive professional opportunities and are every bit the equal of *nix developers.

        Whi
      • Many windows developers have never considered the idea that all the world isn't the latest version of Windows running on a 386.

        A bit like many unix developers think the whole world is POSIX and every machine has perl installed on it ?

        Unix developers tend to target more machines.

        Would the be the OSS developers - whose projects tend to work reliably only on x86/Linux, or commercial developers, who only support maybe 4 or 5 different versions of unix ?

        Thus Windows developers have more trouble crossing

    • What can 'Windows developers' do? Use a mouse?

      They could not figure out how to log in.

      Every time they pressed CTRL-ALT-DEL to get to the login box,
      the linux machines would run "shutdown" instead.

      • Well, that's not what modern linux boxes actually have to do - they can offer shutdown and login options in the same way as windows does. My SUSE acts this way out of the box and has done so for some time.
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:26PM (#12751170) Homepage
    What kind of developers, Windows or otherwise, can't learn how to write PHP or Qt/GTKmm based C++? They're not exactly new development paradigms or anything.

    I suspect the company quoted in the article had a lot of developers who knew what they liked and liked what they knew. The idea of learning a new OS and new APIs didn't really appeal to them, so they just said "we can't do it!" and went off to hire new people.

    I dunno. The other theory sounds more likely - Linux is competing very well with older UNIX based installations but isn't attacking the low end server market as well as it could (ASP compatibility?). And desktop is still at the "we're starting to take this seriously" stage rather than "mass deployment every week" stage.

    I read somewhere that this study was itself funded indirectly by Microsoft, but who knows. The survey data seems credible. That said a reduction in the number of groups who said they were planning to evaluate it dropping a bit doesn't necessarily mean growth is slowing. Maybe it just means a lot of them got around to it? ;)

    • What kind of developers, Linux or otherwise, can't learn how to write VC++ or C#? They're not exactly new development paradigms or anything.

      I suspect the company quoted in the article had a lot of developers who knew what they liked and liked what they knew. The idea of learning a new OS and new APIs didn't really appeal to them, so they just said "we can't do it!" and went off to hire new people.

    • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

      What kind of developers, Windows or otherwise, can't learn how to write PHP or Qt/GTKmm based C++?

      VB developers.
    • Maybe... but wouldn't that mean we've reached saturation?

      Reminds me of strange piece in NewScientist recently. "Fresh AIDs cases drop in India - This year, the WHO estimates only 100,000 new cases of aids ocurred, as opposed to 500,000 the year before, halting a trend since records began. However, this may be due to a change in the method use to estimate the value made by the WHO". I thought no, hang on, according to those figures, the number of new cases must have dropped cos of the 1 billion ppl in India
    • It's interesting that Independent Air is mentioned. They are also mentioned in a Microsoft case study on their website. See here [microsoft.com]
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:26PM (#12751171) Homepage Journal
    Once DRM becomes mandated on all PC hardware, who in the OSS community will be able to afford to be 'certified'. Not many..

    At that point only the 'big boys' will be able to play..

    Microsoft has a *lot* of money in the bank, and can afford to be very patient on regaining their domination..

    • > Once DRM becomes mandated on all PC hardware I don't think so. Hardware companies are catching on that such moves offend a growing number of uses, cutting sales. Hence recent chips have included DRM as a internal option. And that suits me fine. I can go in to my computer and switch it off. Someone who buys a Windows OEM PC from Dell from Hell for three times it's true value, can have DRM enabled when it arrives and not have a clue how to change it.
    • At that point only the 'big boys' will be able to play..

      since when has it been any different?

      if business wants drm they will get it from apple or red hat, no matter how loud rms can be heard screaming in the background.

      in the american home market/soho market, there is no chance of a distro, an oem install, gaining traction unless, like apple, it can make its peace with drm.

      Microsoft has a *lot* of money in the bank, and can afford to be very patient on regaining their domination..

      by the numbers, m

  • by the_rajah (749499) * on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:27PM (#12751183) Homepage
    in that order. You can make the numbers say anything with sufficient qualifications. Oh, and it's only in the US, not world-wide. Read the article carefully. It doesn't mean Linux adoption on a per user basis is slowing, as I read it, the growth rate of new companies using it is slowing. Hardly time to get out the black armbands..
    • "Oh, and it's only in the US, not world-wide. Read the article carefully"

      The article said that they surveyed North America. North Americaa includes three large populous nations and several smaller ones. Only one of these is the US. North America is not world-wide, of course, but it certainly is not just the US.

    • It doesn't mean Linux adoption on a per user basis is slowing, as I read it, the growth rate of new companies using it is slowing.

      Hey, this is "News for Nerds". Express it in terms people here can understand: The second derivative has decreased.

  • If the problem is the hidden-yet-growing costs of consultants, I think we can solve this by

    1. Outsource consulting to India.
    2. Due to labor shortage, India re-outsources back to us
    3. ????
    4. Profit!
  • by Mutilated1 (836311) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:27PM (#12751187) Homepage
    Well just because the growth is slowing doesn't mean that its not still growing. The HPs and IBMs of the world already are using Linux, but the smaller businesses aren't really leading the way with Linux. At my company ( about 500 employess ) we are just this year using Linux for some servers, and I know several other companys that are just starting to use Linux too. So even though these companys are small, as machines age more and more of them will be replaced, and more and more of them are being replaced with something other than Microsoft. Maybe it won't happen overnight, but it will happen none the less.
  • That doesn't mean overall Linux use is slowing. The survey only shows that a smaller number of companies not using Linux plan to try the software than in previous surveys.

    Uhh.. right. So the the survey shows less linux use, but that might not be true because the survey might be wrong. Is that what this line is implying??? OK so you've just established the survey is worthless? Or only when linux use goes down?
    • No, the survey is showing the the adoption of Linux is slowing. The use is still growing, but it is mostly growing in the companies that are already using it.
      • No, the survey isn't even shown. The article, however, is very specific: For the 500 North-American companies surveyed , 7 per cent of companies that don't currently have Linux installed on anything, plan to buy "some" servers with Linux installed over the next 12 months.

        Take that how you will, but to me it looks like microscope focus. Generally when someone looks that closely, they're looking for a specific thing to begin with.
    • Simple (Score:4, Interesting)

      by kf6auf (719514) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:45PM (#12751366)

      It's really quite simple: the first derivative of linux use (growth) is positive, but the second derivative (acceleration) is negative. Let's just all hope that the third derivative is positive.

      • Worse yet. The first derivative is positive. The second derivative also seems to be positive now, but they think that it will become negative by the next time we measure it.

        Seems that the third one is negative, but you can still have hope for the fourth.

  • "That doesn't mean overall Linux use is slowing. The survey only shows that a smaller number of companies not using Linux plan to try the software than in previous surveys. Most analysts expect Linux use to grow at the companies that have already rolled it out -- and do so at a healthy rate. And analysts say Linux is picking up steam outside North America, which the Cowen survey doesn't cover."

    Even a negative report about Linux instantly becomes a positive one on Slashdot. :)

    The biggest limiting factor of
    • If you have linux dual-booted then why not just use that to assault the spyware?
  • Where cost is more of an issue for boxen in comparison to talent.

    Places like China etc which probably aren't being measured, since they're not the EU or US.

    And if there are sales there, the price per unit shipped would be less, since the market won't bear higher premium prices, and thus would show up as "lower growth in sales amounts" which is what they measure.
  • by jurt1235 (834677) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:35PM (#12751265) Homepage
    It can just mean that linux is normalizing. People are not able to hype it anymore to get it into a company. This can be the best thing, since where it gets in, it will stay, and that way slowly gain market share.
  • ...but (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by mr_tommy (619972) *
    You what? The "FUD" that Microsoft had been saying about Linux in terms of cost turned out to be true? Who'd have guessed it?! It turns out that in real world, it does cost money to move over to new systems, train people and get support!
    • You what? The "FUD" that Microsoft had been saying about Linux in terms of cost turned out to be true? Who'd have guessed it?! It turns out that in real world, it does cost money to move over to new systems, train people and get support!

      Oh, please. No one with a brain ever claimed that there were no ancillary costs involved in using Linux. The FUD that Microsoft spreads, and that people like you seem determined to help them spread, goes like this: the ancillary costs associated with Linux are higher th
      • The FUD that Microsoft spreads, and that people like you seem determined to help them spread, goes like this: the ancillary costs associated with Linux are higher than those associated with Windows; higher enough, in fact, that Windows is cheaper overall. Which, now that I think of it, doesn't even deserve a fancy name like "FUD" -- the simple, old-fashioned word "bullshit" is quite sufficient.

        If (big "if") the data in the article is representative, then it would appear that you are mistaken.

  • If you had a product like Interstructures you'd get by with your Windoze guys.

    http://www.interstructures.com/ [interstructures.com]
  • And not much are out there left without a GNU/Linux server.
  • by maynard (3337) <j.maynard.gelinas@gmai3.14l.com minus pi> on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:41PM (#12751338) Journal
    Take Independence Air, a low-cost Washington (D.C.) carrier that had been running the reservation system on its Web site with Linux. The company, which uses Microsoft's Windows operating systems in most other pieces of its business, needed to hire consultants who could write code for Linux, since its Windows developers couldn't.

    "That cost was killing me," says Stephen Shaffer, Independence's director of software systems. After eight months, he replaced the system with Windows and a batch of other Microsoft applications, which he believes will cut his costs by 70% a year.

    Naturally, Microsoft sees the Cowen survey as proof that Linux is finding resistance. "This data completely validates what I've seen," says Martin Taylor, Microsoft's general manager for platform strategy. Not only is Linux maxing out on Unix users but it's not finding new customers among stalwart Windows users, he says.

    These statements are skewed to show that Independence Air's Linux deployment cost too much in consultant fees, and therefore Linux is "expensive" to deploy in comparison to Windows. But they really say no such thing. Independence Air's problem was not its Linux deployment, but the fact that it chose to deploy a small part of their infrastructure without in house knowledge. They already had hired a Windows skill base, and therefore the comparison in utility between their Windows skillset for the entire Windows deployment against a small Linux deployment was bound to come out poorly for Linux. One sees savings with Linux in scale, not individually. Deploy hundreds of hosts and you'll save huge. Deploy a few hosts to drive a small piece of corporate infrastructure and not only will the savings be marginal, but you may have to hire external help to support the deployment.

    So. Don't deploy Linux for small tasks if you're already heavily invested in an alternate technology. Duh. But to claim poor savings across the board as a result of this anecdote is simply stupid. With in house Linux (or UNIX) personnel and a large deployment - of course you'll save big. Which is why the UNIX houses have dumped commercial UNIX desktops for Linux. And why so many have dumped all their small UNIX servers for Linux (and BSD) on Intel. Because it's cheap. Very cheap (and cost effective). --M

    • Notice the absence of real dollars, as opposed to terminology like "70%". 70% of what? 70% doesn't mean much if you don't have a frame of reference.
    • Saving big? (Score:3, Informative)

      With in house Linux (or UNIX) personnel and a large deployment - of course you'll save big.

      I've heard this argument a lot, and yet... At the hourly cost of employing most guys at the office where I work (mostly developers, and a few tech support/sales guys), the amount my employer pays for a Windows licence is worth a little over an hour. Office is a couple more, and Visual Studio a couple more. Since there's a very good chance that someone in the office will know how to do just about anything with th

  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:42PM (#12751340)
    Funny thing. At my company, they're using Linux quite a lot and they don't even know it. Granted, this is an industrial company, but computers are used throughout the company. I slowly switched systems running Windows to Linux and FreeBSD over the years. Currently, all of our networking functions are based on these OSes, as are quite a few applications. While the desktops continue to run Windows, the employees don't know that their files are stored on one of several servers, for example. Even the boss doesn't know. He is always concerned about getting things shipped on time, ensuring high quality output, and that sort of thing, and he has no involvement in the geeky computer stuff, where I take care of everything. Little does he know that half of the computers in his company run free software!

    The point is: Many companies say they're not switching or thinking about switching, and many of these same companies have no idea that they use this stuff. The people being asked are not necessarily the ones who know. And as I've shown, not only at my employer's company, but also at some other places I've moonlighted for as a poor-man's IT consultant of sorts, many functions can be switched over to Linux to gain higher robustness. The servers running this stuff can be in a closet somewhere. I install everything, back it up, turn it on, and then they forget that it exists, because it Just Works (tm).

    So I'm not too sure that these survey results are meaningful.

    • Your company shouldn't be counted in this statistic, because this is looking at the change in the number of companies using or considering Linux; you're using it already and expanding your use isn't counted. I suspect that Linux in the US is closing in on the point where everyone has considered it and either formed a plan for switching things or decided not to switch anything. There's plenty more growth to go in companies expanding their Linux use, but that's a different metric.
    • stealth deployments bite when their maintainer departs for greener pastures.
      • Perhaps nobody knows how to update the mail-scanner's virus definitions, so three months later every byte of useful data on the LAN is destroyed by the latest Win32 worm. And of course the secretary dutifully walking through the backup ritual didn't know what to make of the messages telling her that the tape drive was dying, so she just clicked OK each time (which seemed to work) and now the only backup tapes they have are wall-to-wall CRC errors.

        Sad but typical. If anyone was doing backups at all, that is
  • by coolsva (786215) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:43PM (#12751350)
    Only 7% of outfits with no Linux servers plan to add some over the next year.
    Can we safely assume that we are approaching the limit of diminishing returns, all those who are amicable to convert, have already done so.
    Also, this doesnt mean Linux is slowing/stopping. Companies with some servers would definitely go forward with more, thus growing the overall Linux implementations.
    • This is exactly what I was thinking. If all the companies with no linux servers last year have linux servers this year, then they fall out of the category. This seems like Linux is actually acheiving a pretty good conversion rate to me. If the number for this year were closer to 0%, it would indicate that a huge percentage of companies who were planning on running Linux for the first time have actually done so. And that would probably be a good thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This time we are looking at a more indirectly sponsored study by Microsoft. You might want to look up who is behind SG Cowen & Co. LLC and you'll see they are largly owned by Société Générale, a large French bank that is one of the major investors of Microsoft.

    Sorry, but as everyone knows Linux is gaining market share very rapidly. Nice try...
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:51PM (#12751426)
    First, Apple switches to Intel. Then, Sarge is released. Hell freezes over and pigs fly. And to make matters worse, Dvorak said that Apple's switch to Intel will harm Linux.

    And now, we see that it has come to pass [slashdot.org] mere hours after that appeared on Slashdot!

    I guess the Second Coming is happening tomorrow.

  • Is the only thing that advertisers learned from popup blockers how to misuse javascript in even worse ways? And no I didn't read the article because there was a fucking ad floating in front of it!
  • by the_crowbar (149535) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @05:34PM (#12751903)

    Wow! What is with this story submission? The title on /. would suggest that the Linux growth is slowing. The only thing the article stated was that the rate of new companies testing Linux solutions was slowing.

    The last line of the article sums it up nicely:

    It may get harder to find potential customers that haven't yet tried out the Linux operating system. But has Linux hit a wall? Don't bet on it.

    The prior paragraph also states that Linux server sales were up 35.2% for first quarter 2005, and that was the 11th consecutive quarter of double digit growth.

    the_crowbar
  • When you ask from a company about what systems they are using, they will give (if they will give such information) out an number which consists of systems are actively maintained server or desktop systems or other systems which cause expenses.

    If the system doesn't cost anything extra, it doesn't exist in those numbers. Hence, all test and development environments don't show up in these numbers. In many cases the company doesn't even want to give out any information on what platform they are developing the
  • It makes sense... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by freality (324306) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @05:53PM (#12752113) Homepage Journal
    The *required* cost of using Linux in the workplace is, of course, $0. Just hire people who've been using it for years and you don't have this big scary learning curve. They, like any other long-term OS user, knows how to manage the version stream and keep focused at the same time. Except with Linux, there's no other costs. It's free.

    The way it actually gets to cost something is driven by a market. The question isn't how much free Linux costs. The question is how much Windoze-imitation Linux costs. Companies who are accustomed to shelling out big bucks for Windoze will shell out just a bit less for anything else that does the job and call it a win.

    So of course, for many things, Linux does the job.

    And then there's RedHat to charge just a bit less.

    That's all it takes to bring Linux TCO up to Windows range. I've seen it happen, with my very own eyes. I've even seen a company pay *more* for Linux than Windoze.. *and be happy with it* because Linux is higher performance for many server applications.

    "Unbelievable!" I thought. But it's the market and the expectations that set it up.

    No matter that you can d/l and install Fedora to do just the same job in less the time than it takes to call a RH consultant to get even a quote. You just shout "Risk! Risk! Risk!" enough and you get your IT department a fat budget and get to wear a Linux T-Shirt.

    It's like saying A bird in hand is better than two in the bush. "Sure we could all become Linux experts, but maybe we'd fail!"

    Businesses understand and practice outsourcing intelligence all the time. That's their bird in hand.
    • And then there's RedHat to charge just a bit less.
      Less than whom? They're already undercutting Microsoft, and Microsoft is the low end. RHEL ES is the same price as Windows Server (which only has 10 CALs at that price level), yet it has no connection limits and includes support. Honestly, how much better can they do?

    • Just hire people who've been using it for years and you don't have this big scary learning curve.

      Unfortunately such people will cost you $20K/yr more than Windows people. Compared to this continuous expense, a price of Windows license is invisible.

  • And analysts say Linux is picking up steam outside North America, which the Cowen survey doesn't cover.

    Linux was created outside North America, so it's surprising that the Cowen survey crew even noticed that it exists. If they look around a bit, they just might find other useful software that was written somewhere else in the world.

    (Honestly, when will those Norteamericanos notice that they are no longer in control of the computer industry? Haven't been for years, actually. ;-)
  • by ThisIsFred (705426) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @06:58PM (#12752738) Journal
    It's MS marketing in action, no more. Apparently they're clearing the path for some new announcement, so the shill army has been deployed.

    Selected excerpts:
    But a new report suggests that growth rate could be about to slow.
    "A" report "suggests" it's about to slow. Windows growth is zero, but Linux growth in 500 corporation buyers, limited to those who a) plan on buying new servers, and b) plan on having Linux installed, may slow to 7% growth.

    The survey only shows that a smaller number of companies not using Linux plan to try the software than in previous surveys.
    Have all the companies that began adopting stopped or reversed adoption entirely?
    Most analysts expect Linux use to grow at the companies that have already rolled it out -- and do so at a healthy rate.
    But not these guys, apparently.

    Brosseau thinks Linux won't find as many new customers as in the past in large part because it has already tapped the market that includes its most likely buyers: Unix users.
    So this guy says. If anything, it shows where those marketing Linux-based solutions aren't reaching out to customers with other needs. Linux does a fine job as a low- to mid-range file and print server, document-server and company intranet web-app server. That's about as easy a drop-in replacement that you can get. However, thinking is required.

    What's more, some companies that experimented with Linux hoping for big cost savings found that the open-source software wasn't what they expected. "Some of the bloom is coming off," says Brosseau.
    Who are these companies, and what do they do? How did they implement it? Where is the report with cited sources to back up this statement?

    Take Independence Air, a low-cost Washington (D.C.) carrier that... needed to hire consultants who could write code for Linux, since its Windows developers couldn't.

    ...

    ...replaced the system with Windows and a batch of other Microsoft applications, which he believes will cut his costs by 70% a year...
    Ouch! This seriously undercuts the credibility of MS-certification, since this crew doesn't seem to know how to read. Of course there will be greater costs during the switch, but will that remain at 70% above the current costs forever? Also, this is an anti-argument for Microsoft, because this same company is obviously going to have a hard time dealing with the API changes coming in Longhorn. If anything, this message is: "It will cost a lot more to move away from a Microsoft solution if you buy into it, and your applications won't be portable to other platforms. Microsoft can't grow with your business, and you'll be stuck with them!"

    Naturally, Microsoft sees the Cowen survey as proof that Linux is finding resistance. "This data completely validates what I've seen," says Martin Taylor, Microsoft's general manager for platform strategy. Not only is Linux maxing out on Unix users but it's not finding new customers among stalwart Windows users, he says.
    This guy works for MS marketing strategy. Did we really need to quote him? Also, his statments contradict the concessions made by the author of the article. Who is right?

    Siemens, for example, has Linux servers handling some of its firewall and communication applications. Now, it's pushing Linux into its data center, heavy-duty computing that hasn't been the open-source operating system's forte.
    It hasn't? Linux has been the platform on which to build a "super"-computers with commodity hardware. It's also a popular platform for serving massive loads in heavily-used websites. It can do more. The author also fails to point out that Microsoft, despite its major marketing effort to get Windows into the "data center", is encountering resistance. Let me put this forth: If operating systems such as Solaris and AIX are in the "data center", and Linux is replacing UNIX, where is Linux going?

  • by hankaholic (32239) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @11:21PM (#12754540)
    I'm looking at this right now at work. I've been a long-term Debian and occasional FreeBSD user, so I'm new to a lot of the considerations involved. If anyone can point out any misunderstandings or inaccuracies it would help readers and perhaps allow me to make more informed decisions as well.

    We have a large number of desktops (numbered in four digits) across a large number of sites (numbered in three digits). When you get to this point, the idea of a free OS isn't quite the issue. Sure, it's nice that you can pop in the RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) or Fedora CDs and get a functional desktop. Automated hardware detection is good when anything other than a preconfigured, flawlessly automated installation simply isn't an option. This is something that Fedora has covered, as do many other free distributions.

    However, where Fedora falls short is remote management -- obviously you can update a single machine easily, but imagine having several thousand identical systems to update in a secure and timely manner.

    Add the fact that when there's nobody at an installation site capable of fixing problems should they arise you need a way to test new packages and updates prior to deployment. What is needed is a way to set up groups of machines in such a way that you can push software out to them easily in a controlled manner. Set up a testing lab, for instance, and test new software in the labs before risking a breakage in remote settings. Then, when you've tested, push updates out easily, and offer rollback support if something unexpected happens.

    This is the state of what Red Hat Network allows you to do (at least with their highest level of support), all via a web-based tool. You can even delegate administrative access to subsets of machines to given administrators. They promise a stable distribution, even to the extent that APIs and ABIs of provided software will not change. This is something not promised under Fedora.

    RHEL clones exist, but they do not allow access to the administrative features that the Red Hat Network provides. Nor are they supported by vendors -- if your SAN is supported under RHEL and doesn't work under RHEL, you can complain to the vendor until they fix it. If your SAN is supported under RHEL and doesn't work under CentOS, there's little you can do.

    Windows allows system management like this through a product called Systems Management Server. Unsupported Linux distributions don't offer the features, and they don't offer this level of guaranteed API/ABI stability and vendor support.

    Yes, you can do without support. However, when you're dealing with application vendors who expect to have a known set of installed software, it's much easier when everyone is on the same page. (This is a pain when it comes to JREs required by Windows apps -- everyone wants a different version, and if you don't have enough pull with the vendor to get them to support what you've got rolled out, you're stuck rolling out yet another JRE).

    Cheap software means nothing if you can't tailor your environment to your needs, including deployment, testing, and administration on a wide scale. That's why companies pay for Red Hat support and subscriptions -- because of the management tools and guaranteed support you don't get with Fedora or CentOS.

    I'm ignoring Novell here entirely, by the way, but they do offer similar features. They just can't seem to make up their minds whether to push open products or ones based on NetWare. Their interoperability is wicked, but they also like to push their consulting services so it's hard to find direct information much of the time.

    Finally, Red Hat's desktop stance is quite unclear. Novell is pushing the hell out of Windows migrations, but they are short on details such as pricing and return on investment (except pushing products such as ZENworks, which is similar in function to the RHN stuff I've described). You can't get any information on Windows-to-Red Hat migrations either -- all of the Red Hat case studies are UNIX-to-
    • This is for debian, I can't speak for Fedora. Set up your own local apt-get source. In fact two, one "test", one "production". Point a cron job in your test/production machines to the respective sources, with forced upgrades. You will have cleared the production packages *before* you push them to the production source, so there's no risk there. Run a test run. If all works well, great. Update your production source from the test source. And then the cycle starts over.

      If the test machines crap out, upgrade
      • The problem also is that you can't necessarily manage multiple groups easily and make sure that machines are part of the appropriate groups. You could probably pull something together with tons of symlinks and a private repository per-machine, but rollback is still difficult, and you're still dealing with the problem of moving targets (for instance, a while ago a Debian stable upgrade broke SMTP auth because a configuration file had changed).

        FreeBSD had a similar problem, where an update brought down an SS

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