Gartner: Linux 'five years away from mainstream use'

Linux's biggest test will be whether it can demonstrate the necessary performance and security to function as a data centre server for mission-critical applications.

Open source is still up to five years away from mainstream use in enterprise IT infrastructures, despite the progress made in the commercialisation of the platform, according to analyst Gartner.

Gartner's latest Linux 'hype cycle' report shows that open source is halfway to maturity but warns the biggest test will be whether it can demonstrate the necessary performance and security to function as a data centre server for mission-critical applications.

Leading-edge businesses are generally still in the early stages of Linux deployments but Gartner expects increased commercialisation and improved storage and systems management for the operating system by the end of 2005, with Linux being used primarily for WebSphere and infrastructure applications on mainframes and web services on blades and racks.

On the desktop, Linux is having a tougher time. Gartner claims the operating system is reaching the point where the costs of migration may exceed the cost benefits in a phase characterised by over-enthusiasm and unrealistic projections which lead to more failures than successes.

The Gartner report highlights the diversity across the open source movement with some markets, such as blade and clustered servers, predicted to be quite advanced while others will fall behind because of the lack of richness in manageability and availability.

The report chimes with the results of silicon.com's own CIO Jury verdict on open source by some of the UK's leading heads of IT. Our survey found that many have now re-evaluated their position on open source after initial enthusiasm two years ago because of concerns over the total cost of ownership and migration.

Silicon.com's Andy McCue reported from London.

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