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Video How Can Linux Gain (Even) More Enterprise Acceptance? (Video) 177

This is what we asked Jason Perlow. He wrote a Linux Magazine column for many years and now writes for ZDNet. The ZDNet blurb describes him as "a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies." Most recently, he worked for IBM, and for Unisys before that. So Jason knows plenty about Linux and its role in big-time enterprise computing. In this video, he talks about how Linux needs to take another step forward to gain even more enterprise traction in coming years.

Robin: This is Jason Perlow, who has written for Linux Magazine and now ZDNet and has worked for IBM and for Unisys, all pretty much on Linux, and before that he was a big UNIX guy. So, tell me what does Linux need to do now to become even more accepted in the enterprise?

Jason: So, Linux has really evolved over the last 10 to 15 years. It’s gone from like a science project of one particular guy living in Finland to one of the most scalable enterprise offering systems in the world. It’s gone from a hobbyist operating system with no commercial support to an operating system that’s been embraced by the largest enterprise systems vendors in the word including IBM, HP, Oracle, Dell, you name it.

So, in terms of being able to handle workloads, we now have an operating system that could handle large of amount of codes and processors on a monolithic system, on clusters, huge memory configurations, enterprise storage, all those things are part of the operating system today. Where Linux lags behind some of the more other commercial enterprise products includes commercial [UNIX systems] as well as Windows-based enterprise environments, and the mainframe is really in management.

The reason why management has become so important this year and it will be over the coming years, is that more and more enterprises are going to be divorcing themselves from owning their own infrastructure and that’s just because you have a crappy economy, people don’t want to have computer assets anymore, they want to buy it as a service, essentially infrastructure-as-a-service from hosting and cloud providers. Or, if they want to have their own infrastructure, they need to be able to provision it very quickly.

So, you don’t want to have a situation where you bring a virtual server up or any kind of server up, and it take hours or days or weeks to get it configured and ready for production. You want to be able to spin it up within minutes. And not just one server, you want to be able to spin up a whole group of servers that are part of an application architecture pretty quickly. So, typically in a 3-tier architecture, you might have a web server, you might have a middleware server and a database server, that’s one simple configuration.

Well, each of those servers may have pieces and components on them that are fairly complex. You want to be able to template an application architecture like that and spin it out within minutes just by clicking a button. So, that’s something that Linux needs to have in order to become successful if you are going to have something which is called multi-tenant cloud tenancy. You want to be able to have these cloud providers which can sell Linux as an infrastructure to customers, essentially like you would buy electricity or water from your local utility company.

Robin: Yeah, are you sure? IBM, HP, these guys have been trying to do that for years. I’ve gotten press release after press release and I’ve always asked, well where are the customers and they never were able to sell the service. So are people buying it now?

Jason: People are definitely buying it now and you’re seeing it happen at Amazon, you’re seeing it happen at Rackspace, you’re seeing it happen at also companies – Amazon, and also Microsoft with their Azure service as well. So that’s just a couple of them. There are 4,000 service providers in the United States which are offering Linux virtualized to customers. Now all of them have different abilities to provision in terms of the speed at which they can provision a system and what they cost and what the complexity of their offerings are, but these are real companies that are selling to your customers.

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How Can Linux Gain (Even) More Enterprise Acceptance? (Video)

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  • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Thursday November 29, 2012 @04:31PM (#42134197)

    Lose the beard. Find a shirt. Just sayin...

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @04:50PM (#42134431) Homepage

    Seriously people. Linux is frikken everywhere.

    Though we are a "Windows Shop" here at my company, we have more Linux servers than Windows servers. How can that be? Turns out, our storage appliances, our Cisco phone system, our VMWare servers and lots more if you include the multi-function copiers and stuff are all Linux machines. We also have a small collection of Linux machines I put together which just run and run and run...

    At one time, we were in a meeting talking about various topics and someone made the statement about Linux being a hobbyist system and blah blah blah... I was silent for a moment and then pointed out the largest professional server deployments on the planet are running under Linux. ... and oh yeah, so are most of our servers... voicemail, virtual hosts, storage and all that. How, exactly, is Linux just a hobbyist system?

    Linux, itself, is very widely accepted, used and relied upon. It is very proven.

    What is needed now is serious added push for the SaMBa project to embrace and extend on Microsoft's AD. Take it over and make it better. After all, it's a bunch of services. There's a lot of really smart people out there who are quite capable and looking for a good project to get involved in. I'd like to point in SaMBa's direction. One thing it seriously lacks is a dumbass configuration tool.

    I get that we can tweak on config files all day long and the SWAT thing is kinda nice. But we need to compete with the Windows domain server GUI tools and all that. The functionality is very much there. Now we just need something that dumbasses can use.

  • by David_Hart ( 1184661 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @05:09PM (#42134597)

    Linux is not as viable as you might think. A large percentage of office workers work at large companies. Large companies require enterprise level support systems, something that Microsoft, and the Windows ecosystem, does a good job providing and which Linux just doesn't have. It's one of the reasons why Linux has not gained traction.

  • by chucklebutte ( 921447 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @05:14PM (#42134659) Homepage

    This roblimo guy sounded like he was having a heart attack or doing some sort of one handed strenuous activity which results in heavy panting.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 29, 2012 @05:28PM (#42134829)

    "One thing it seriously lacks is a dumbass configuration tool."

    Is that a tool that a dumbass can operate easily to configure software? Or software that can be used easily to configure the dumbass?

  • by David_Hart ( 1184661 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @05:36PM (#42134931)

    I'm thinking maybe account management and such, but I'm sure alternatives are available. Even if they weren't, Linux machines can be used in place of Windows clients in an Active Directory environment.

    There are organisations that do enterprise support for Linux anyway.. Red Hat and the like.

    Account management is but the tip of the iceberg.

    Yes, there are organizations that perform enterprise support. However, these services are largely dedicated to servers and not to workstations.

  • Re:Access (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sribe ( 304414 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @05:36PM (#42134939)

    In my experience, one thing blocking the adoption of Linux in corporate environments are MS-Access applications. Not only legacy ones, that could be moved, but the fact that there is nowhere to move them to. There is simply nothing that remotely approaches Access in the Linux world, and it's a pity.

    Granted, my experience with Access is limited. But I do not find its lack to be a detriment for any platform.

  • by HerculesMO ( 693085 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @05:41PM (#42134997)

    You have to beat Microsoft Office.

    And that is a game that has been tried, and failed many times. Enterprises aren't hooked to Windows as much as they are the tools they use on it. Excel being probably the biggest one. The amount of power that desktop app has is ridiculous, and while I can applaud all the open source flavors, nothing comes even close. You can't unseat Windows or make Linux more tractable in the enterprise without removing the dependence on Office.

    You can make Linux awesome, make Samba a worthy AD competitor, but if you don't have the productivity suite that makes it amazing, the cost of a $90 Windows license is nothing compared to the productivity you'd give up to lose Excel. Here's a hint folks -- people don't look at the price of the OS, nor do they care. They look at the value of the suite of tools that allow an employee to work. If you could make a business case that a Calicovision would make you more productive than Windows, I think you'd see a swell of pilots testing it out.

    Linux isn't being ignored because it's bad -- well... partly because it is, but that's more a Samba fix -- it's being ignored because it does not contain a worthwhile replacement to the jobs people are already doing, and the businesses already engrained in workflows that surround and use Office. And you will not break that mold easily, if ever. And it's why I still say Windows Phone is going to do well over time.... but I'll gladly eat my words if I'm wrong.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 29, 2012 @07:09PM (#42135899)

    All of these are 100% doable under Linux, no problem, even more flexibly than Windows.

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant