Red Hat vs. Windows for server share: The battle just heating up

Summary:Red Hat executives say they are going after Windows workloads in the enterprise and winning their share of deals. However, the effort will take time and the battle is really over new computing workloads.

Red Hat executives say they are going after Windows workloads in the enterprise and winning their share of deals. However, the effort will take time and the battle is really over new computing workloads.

The Red Hat Enterprise Linux-Windows Server duel is worth noting. According to IDC's most recent data, Windows servers have 47.7 percent of the market with third quarter revenue of $5.6 billion, up 26 percent from a year ago. Linux servers represent 17.5 percent of industry revenue and third quarter revenue grew 32.6 percent to $2.1 billion. Unix server revenue has 21.5 percent market share, but is fading. IBM's z/OS has 8.6 percent of the server market.

In a nutshell, Windows servers have the most market share and nice growth. It's just a matter of time before Linux servers eclipse Unix to become No. 2.

On Red Hat's earnings conference call Tuesday---the company reported strong third quarter results---CFO Charlie Peters noted that "the Windows market continues to be something that we're definitely going after and something we've made good progress on." Indeed, Red Hat has had its share of wins, but the Microsoft battle is more nuanced. The fight between Windows and Red Hat is over new workloads. No one is ripping out a Windows box for a Linux version.

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst explained the dynamic.

Typically you don't get a situation where somebody has a Windows box and comes in and reinstalls Linux on top of it or vice versa. The competitive dynamic happens with new infrastructure coming in or new workloads coming in, new applications coming in. And so working well with, making the SAPs of the world or the Accentures of the world, or ensuring web applications are built on a LAMP stack. That's really where the battle happens. The typical field of battle is actually who's getting the incremental 500 servers of infrastructure at XYZ company. And that's again certainly the OS is important, but it's also ensuring that the applications run best on that, that the tooling is there, that the company has the skill set to manage. I think we do incredibly well there. And obviously it's one of the reasons you've seen the growth.

Analysts on the conference call were all over the Red Hat vs. Microsoft debate. Next up was whether Windows applications were being virtualized on Red hat. Whitehurst said a few customers are virtualizing Exchange on Red Hat, but it's too early to tell what's going on. Whitehurst said:

We're still in the early days to call it a trend. But we're certainly seeing customers do that. Windows is fully certified and supported by Microsoft on RHEV (Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization), and so we have a number of customers virtualizing Windows workloads including things like Exchange. So we feel very good about that. In terms of absolute quantification, I don't have any great numbers on that yet. But we're certainly seeing a lot of Windows workloads being up on RHEV.

Topics: Windows, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Servers, Software

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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