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Linux comes of age for servers, enterprise applications
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Linux* Comes of Age
Times change. And changing times present both new challenges and new opportunities.

The most popular operating system for Web servers, Linux, now accounts for more than 33% of all server operating system sales.

Nowhere is this sentiment more clear than in the emergence of the Linux operating system, created in 1991 by Finnish student Linus Torvalds. A vast community of independent developers have contributed to the popular open source OS, helping Linux quickly emerge as the most popular platform for running Web servers. Today, Linux accounts for over 33% of all server operating system sales. Applications developers are flocking to Linux in record numbers. Hardware support is thorough and aggressively innovative.

Behind this success: An open source code base that enables businesses and the developer community to adapt Linux to their specific needs.

Bound for Enterprise Applications
According to market research firm International Data Corporation, Linux is the fastest growing operating system for servers. IDC projects that commercial shipments of Linux will grow at a staggering compound annual rate of 25% through 2003. IDC estimates that all other server operating systems will grow at a rate of about 12% during the same span. In the arena of Web servers, Linux towers over all other products, thanks in large part to the popularity of Apache Web Server, an open source Internet hosting application that, like Linux, is available at no cost.

"Linux is obviously a hit in the Web server arena, but signs also clearly point to the operating system becoming a powerful force in business-critical enterprise applications," says Dan Kusnetzki, program director for Operating Environments and Serverware at International Data Corporation "Oracle, Sybase, Informix, IBM, and SAP announced early support for Linux with their database and development tools," says Kusnetzki.

All have followed through. Oracle, for example, has worked closely with Linux publisher Red Hat to optimize Linux for Oracle and vice-versa. SAP continues to make its business-critical ERP modules available for Linux-based servers.

The June 2000, alliance of Dell Computer Corporation, the world's largest manufacturer of PCs, with Red Hat Software to form a "One Source Linux Alliance" is further indication of the operating system's maturity. Few would question that Linux now stands on equal footing with any operating system anywhere. Dell and Red Hat will be focusing much of their development attention on next-generation open-source systems based on Intel® Itanium" processors.

Even as hardware and enterprise software vendors gather behind the platform, Linux itself is extending to incorporate key enterprise-class features. Red Hat's Linux 6.2, for example, supports symmetric multiprocessor (SMP) support, and includes applications such as Apache, Samba, and Sendmail.

Super for Servers
VA Linux Systems (formerly VA Research), a system maker that manufactures Linux systems, has continued to boost server capability, ramping up power as Linux ramped up its popularity. VA Linux Systems servers today boast single-, double-, or quad-processor servers built around the entire Intel® family of processors, from Intel® Celeron® processors to Pentium® III and Pentium® III Xeon" processors running at speeds up to 850MHz.

Intel's support of Linux extends to its Intel® Profusion® chipset, which enables 8-way Pentium III Xeon processor-based servers. Servers based on off-the-shelf Profusion architecture designs can offer enterprise-class performance and reliability at significantly reduced prices compared to similarly equipped servers based on proprietary technology.

Brian Biles, vice president of marketing for VA Linux Systems, says his company's focus has been critical to delivering systems optimized for Linux, especially as Linux has experienced such a dramatic surge in popularity. "We engineer our systems to run Linux well, not so that it just supports Linux," Biles says. "You have to understand the level of support that each piece of hardware has in the Linux operating system and the environment. An individual piece of hardware may be touted as being the best of its kind. But it's often best for Windows, and not for Linux."

Biles says VA Linux is experiencing rapid growth as more and more customers decide to deploy Linux systems. One major reason for the surge: the availability of professional support. "VA provides full software and hardware system support from a single source. Most of our competitors offer either hardware or software support, not both. We save our customers a lot of fingerpointing," says Biles.

A Full Member of the Club
Dell Computer sees Linux now as one of three critical global operating systems, along with Microsoft Windows and Novell Netware. There could be no clearer indication of Linux's maturity as an operating system, a server environment, and an applications platform. Just because Linux is here, and here to stay, however, don't think that the other two are going away. International Data Corporation's Kusnetzki cautions that Linux won't sweep in to replace existing operating systems, which themselves took many years to mature and deploy. "There's a thing here we call the 20-year rule. If it took 20 years to get into the organization, it might take 20 years to get out of it."

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