Analysts size up the Linux market

At the Gartner Symposium/ITXpo last week, analysts put forth some positive, but cautious predictions on how Linux will perform in the enterprise market over the next several quarters.

Over the next 12 to 24 months, Gartner sees the scalability of Linux rising for core data center applications, as enterprises will look for Linux on symmetric multiprocessing boxes running as many as eight CPUs. This does not mean that Linux is poised to take over enterprise data centers, the analyst firm adds.

Linux will displace some systems and become almost dominant at the network edge, running applications such as file, print, e-mail and Web servers. Meanwhile RISC-based Unix servers from the players in these markets - Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sun - will remain dominant in the data center.

As for the Linux market, Gartner says Red Hat will retain over 50% market share through 2005, as competing efforts such as the UnitedLinux product - a joint development/marketing effort by the SCO Group (formerly Caldera), SuSE, TurboLinux and others - will not impact Red Hat's position. Gartner says Red Hat could be hurt by Sun's entrance into the Linux market however, since much of Red Hat's marketing is focused on convincing users of low-end Solaris/SPARC machines to go with Red Hat/Intel. Sun, with its own Linux server now, could counter that message.

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