How far will the push of Linux progress into enterprise IT?
Linux decisions are being made by the managerial class - senior IT professionals, CIOs, CFOs, technology executive committees, and so on, who insist that choices be made on a strictly business justification basis. There's recent headlines such as Unilever dumping Unix for Linux in a global move. Also, consider the strictly business (albeit self-interested) vendors and all their Linux support.
Open source pricing and Linux clustering and mission-critical capabilities reportedly even have Wall Street hardheads leaning towards Linux. Capability and "fraction of the expense" pricing and reduction of large-vendor leverage can obviously figure in business case arguments.
The basic idea behind open source (www.opensource.org) is logical: "When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves . . . people improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs . . . and this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing."
For me confusion creeps in when I consider the long-term implications and sustainability of "rapid evolution" built on the back of volunteer programmers, however determined they are to defeat the Microsoft evil empire. At a more practical level, I wonder what it means for corporate IT when I call a local supplier of SuSE Linux OpenExchange Server (the open source alternative to Microsoft Exchange) for pricing information, only to be told that the "boss doesn't know about it and the guy who does has gone off on five weeks leave".
On page 8 Pimm Fox argues against leaving OS choice to developers, and complains about the headache caused by a torrent of e-mails from eager Linux fans accusing him of personal stupidity and Microsoft bias. Also on that page, readers rip into Meta Group's claims that Linux total cost of ownership (TCO) can exceed that of Microsoft environments. On this page, Chris Osborne of Griffith University's IC&Technologies Services, rebuts a small part of one our recent reviews that said IBM Lotus Notes clients wouldn't run on Linux.
Technology passion - is it back in fashion? Or is Linux in the enterprise a strictly business decision?