eWEEK 30: Unix Proves Staying Power as Enterprise Computing Platform

By Sean Michael Kerner  |  Posted 2013-11-22 Print this article Print

"Part of that speaks to the fact that we have dynamic capabilities in the HP-UX kernel that now allow us to continuously provide additional features to increase quality and performance," Bresniker said.

By keeping the same operating system version with the HP-UX 11i series, there is no disruption for existing applications, which wouldn't necessarily be true if there was a major release version, he said.

A major release version would force independent software vendor (ISV) partners to recertify their software against the new revision. With HP-UX 11i, Bresniker said HP has been able to keep the same major version in place even as new Itanium silicon and servers have reached the market with dramatically increased scale and performance.

The Next 30 Years

Although Unix has changed dramatically since PC Week was first launched in 1984, it still remains a relevant and core component of the modern computing landscape. There are a number of reasons why Unix, which first saw commercial success in the 1980s, is alive and well in 2013.

There are always choices that organizations can make, according to Oracle's Flierl. In his view, the long-term success of Unix is not about how it compares to other operating systems like Windows or even Linux, which is based on Unix. Linux first debuted in 1991 and has emerged to become a viable competitor to Unix. IBM, HP and Oracle all support Linux as well as Unix today.

"A lot of technologies have come and gone, and then there are technologies that have come and stayed relevant," Flierl said. "At the end of the day, what it comes down to is if the technology is solving a problem and if it is reliable and cost-efficient."

The constant path of innovation from the 1980s onward is also seen by Flierl as being at the heart of why Unix and Solaris have been successful for so long.

The long life of Unix server systems is another key component of the technology's success. HP's Bresniker said he recently visited a customer site that was running the latest HP Superdome servers with HP-UX and saw an HP-UX server that was a decade or more old still churning away.

"I'm always pleased to find our Unix equipment humming away in the corner of a data center doing a great job," Bresniker said. "These platforms are so long lived because they are so reliable and they are incorporated into the fabric of our day-to-day business."

IBM's Befi said he believes there are still some RS/6000 AIX systems from the 1990s in operation, though he noted that when the technology gets to a certain age it typically becomes compelling to upgrade it.

Unix 30 years ago was an evolving technology with lots of innovation ahead of it. Now in 2013, HP, Oracle and IBM all expect that Unix will be around for at least another 30 years, with more innovation yet to come.

"We're playing long ball here," Befi said. "This technology will be around longer than me."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.



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