Linux in the enterprise

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2003-12-29 Print this article Print

With Linux 2.6, Linux is now ready for any, I repeat, any, core enterprise business work. As a server platform, Linux is as capable, if not more so, as AIX, Solaris, UnixWare or Server 2003. At the low end, thanks to its low-cost deployment and maintenance, Linux has become the server of choice for small to medium-sized businesses for their file and Web server needs. It wasnt just a great technical year for Linux though. Samba, Apache and other open-source mainstays also made significant steps forward.
As for the desktop, though, I, for one, still dont see Linux as the top choice. I like Linux on my desktop, but I still havent seen a Linux desktop that I think companies are going to want to deploy for their information workers.
That said, I do think a popular business Linux desktop is getting closer. Suns Java Desktop System (JDS) shows great promise. Now, if only Sun would make up its mind if it wants to support Linux or kill it! Desktop distributions like Xandros Xandros Desktop OS 2 are also looking much more interesting. Microsoft, of all companies, may actually be the Linux desktops biggest friend; as Redmond closes the books on low-end desktop systems like Windows 98SE, cost-conscious companies may consider cheaper alternatives than Windows XP Pro. This fact hasnt been lost on other companies. IBM broke the ice for big-time corporate IT support for Linux, but now Novell, with its forthcoming purchase of SUSE, and Oracle, with its all-out support of Linux from the desktop to the server, are making Linux a safe choice for corporate IT buyers who are more impressed by vendor stability than technological innovation. The saying used to be that you could never get fired for buying IBM, then it morphed into you could never get fired by buying Microsoft; now, its becoming you can never get fired by buying Linux. Albeit, SCO does its best to make IT buyers think that that is exactly the case. The truth of the matter is that in 2003 Linux was becoming just as much a business staple as Intel-based servers and Windows-based desktops. In 2004, with strong vendor support, Linux will become, once and for all, part of business computings mainstream. Next page: A look ahead at 2004

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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