Linux, .Net will dominate server market by 2009

Open source Linux technology and .Net systems from Microsoft will continue to chip away at the dominant position of Unix operating systems in the server market, with Linux expected to become the major server operating system by 2009, according to a study published by IT analyst company, Butler Group.

Though Unix systems from Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM and Sun Microsystems will remain the server operating systems of choice through 2004, within seven years Linux and .Net will have fully penetrated the market from file and print servers, through to the mainframe, the Butler Group, said in a statement outlining its study: "Server Operating Systems - Winners and Losers in the Open/Proprietary OS Market."

Due in large part to the lower cost of operation and the increasing quality of service, Linux will make significant headway within the next three years for file and print servers, either replacing Microsoft's NT operating systems on the same box, or as low cost replacements of other systems, the Butler Group said.

Along with cost and quality of service, IT managers are looking for server operating systems that offer a more secure and efficient infrastructure as well as easier maintenance and deployment of applications, Butler said. When making purchasing decisions, IT managers want clear vendor road maps, and adherence to standards, all of which will benefit the open source Linux, according to the analyst group.

Also on the plus side for Linux: it has the benefit of running on a variety of hardware, from low-end Intel servers to mainframes, and more major independent software vendors (ISV) are beginning to certify their applications for the Linux operating system, the Butler Group said.

The group recommended that even small businesses should begin implementing and experimenting with Linux in order to gain a skills base and knowledge in the open source server operating system as Linux begins to replace low-end Unix and take a significant share of the market from Microsoft's Windows within the next three to five years.

The server market is beginning to require server operating systems that are small, simple and meet the two main objectives of virtual (or distributed) server and resource management.

As a result, the industry as a whole urgently needs to begin collaborating on standards for next generation server operating systems, to prepare within the next 10 years for the arrival of grid-computing and Web services technologies, including the expected emergence of wireless intelligent devices and appliances using voice and streaming multimedia, the Butler Group said.