Ubuntu's corporate ready 8.04 is released but is three a crowd in Linux server market?

Ubuntu's corporate ready 8.04 is released but is three a crowd in Linux server market?

Summary: Ubuntu 8.04 LTS was released on April 24 as planned and will be supported until 2011-2013.


Ubuntu 8.04 LTS was released on April 24 as planned and will be supported until 2011-2013. But is extended support enough to convince ISVs and businesses to support three Linux distributions?

Despite the hoopla around its release Wednesday, Ubuntu’s ambitions in the corporate server space will be frustrated because developers and customers don’t want to support more than two Linux distributions, said one Linux kernel developer and a prominent industry analyst.

“Ubuntu did a very valuable service for the community when it proved you could make a very usable Linux deskop. They went down that path and forced other distributors to do this stuff, “ said Ted Ts’o, a top Linux kernel developer and fellow at the Linux Foundation. “But they’re not in a significant role today in the server markets and that’s because ISVs like Oracle and SAP aren’t interested in supporting multiple Linux distributions.”

George Weiss, an open source analyst at the Gartner Group, acknowledges that the Ubuntu ecosystem is growing. But he agrees that it will be tough for Ubuntu to replicate on the server side what it has accomplished on the desktop side.

And that could make it a hard sell to the corporate crowd.

“As long as Canonical can extend its reach, which is geographically limited in feet on the street, it would mostly be working through partners. Butserver partnerships are still limited (no server ties with HP and IBM),” Weiss said. “Their bottom up desktop to basic server infrastructure could gain them foothold but more will be needed as influence in the CIO's office. CIOs [will ask], ‘What, another Linux?!

As part of the rollout this week, Canonical announced that Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Server Edition is certified on several Sun x64 server platforms, including the Sun Fire X2100 M2, X2200 M2 and Sun Fire X4150 servers.

HP also committed to testing and ensuring compatibility of Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Server Edition on select Proliant servers – but failed short of offering certification or support beyond that.

In recent interviews, Ubuntu creator Mark Shuttleworth hinted that Canonical is in active discussions with "multinational" OEMs on the desktop and server side. But there was little progress to report on launch day.

That’s not to say Ubuntu won’t grow in use on servers. Ubuntu has been cropping up in very large deployments for single process file servers or DNS servers and at SMB sites and will continue to do so, Canonical executives say.

Gartner's Weiss Ubuntu’s business approach is similar to the model Microsoft successfully employed against Unix server vendors in the 90s.

“They do represent the prospects of new high volume, low price-structure commodity presence as undercutting the traditional up-the-stack approaches of Novell and Red Hat,” he noted. "If we characterize the market as expansionary, then Ubuntu's threat to Red Hat and Novell is in the form of lost opportunity rather than direct competitive replacement. A good example might be in massively scalable infrastructures and emerging internet-based businesses that want maximum flexibility at minimal license costs. On the other hand, I wouldn't look for Ubuntu in many complex, mission critical enterprise workloads and therefore as a benign presence."

At a recent OSBC panel, Shuttleworth opined that "we're at a tipping point" in which IT administrators are being questioned by CIOs about why they want to use proprietary software, not open source software, and that's a big turnaround in five years time.

True enough. Still, Ubuntu's maturing in the client/server OS market comes at an awkward time in which customers are evaluating a switch to a software-as-service model -- even as they move to open source. This could pose additional problems for Ubuntu.

And its big corporate pitch comes shortly after Microsoft released its Windows Server 2008, Windows XP SP3 and has begun banging the FUD drum about the next generation Windows 9.

One open source consultant said for now, Ubuntu likely has a better shot on the desktop and should focus its attentions on that side of the equation.

“I think especially Red Hat should be worried about Ubuntu. Red Hat abandoned the desktop and has been trying to regain it lately, but found that Ubuntu got there first," said Chris Maresca, founding partner of Olliance Consulting, Palo Alto, Calif. "A common Linux desktop is probably a long road, but the EeePC and the new Atom chipset from Intel are pushing it forward at the low end. Windows does not run on Atom because of no PCI so Intel is pushing Linux hard."

In spite of the success of open source, Linux on the desktop has a long way to go. Although many had predicted that HP would match Dell's commitment of last year and prebundle Ubuntu Linux on its PCs, it's out of the question at the moment, a company spokeswoman said.

"While HP continued to closely monitor demand for pre-loaded Linux PC offerings all of our regions around world, we are not seeing significant customer demand for expansion of our Linux plans to include Ubuntu," said Tiffany Smith, a spokeswoman for HP Personal Systems Group.

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

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  • Choice is the under-pin of capitalism

    So the choice stops any one of these companies getting too Microsoftish.

    As far as support goes, if somebody cannot readily hop between an apt or rpm based system then they shouldn't be going anywhere near them - it's so easy that only a clown couldn't do it.
    • The article is accurate - you just don't get it

      You obviously do not work in the enterprise or this would be much easier for you to understand.

      How's Mum - i.e. Penolope and your dad Rupert?
      • RE: Ubuntu's corporate ready 8.04 is released but is three a crowd in Linux market?

        A common Linux desktop is probably a long road, but the EeePC and the new Atom chipset from Intel are pushing it forward at the low end. Windows does not run on Atom because of no PCI so Intel is pushing Linux hard.<a href="http://ipadbagblog.com/"><font color="LightGrey"> k</font></a>
      • RE: Ubuntu's corporate ready 8.04 is released but is three a crowd in Linux market?

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  • Long way to go?

    Yes, sure, Linux has a long way to go - but if you look at where Ubuntu is today - it is *almost* there. If only we get OTS Ubuntu the way we get Windows - it will be a cake walk. People get messed up with installation etc. which casual users can do without.
  • They need to make.

    They would really take off if they had a workgroup server, directory services like system similar to Windows 2008 server and AD like MS does.

    If I could take UBUNTU server and drop it in (Which I can almost do with Xandros server) and provide directory services (Point and click like AD) and workgroup services like Windows server they would take off and be one of the only Linux companies really in that market.

    Xandros provides it but Xandros is pricy and not popular. Yet when people come to me and ask me which Linux server I would use for SMB's it's Xandros because of the Windows like ease of use. MMC like user interface etc.

    No other Linux company has really gone into this space. Yet this is where MS has most of their business. It's ripe for people wanting easy to use directory services, security and reliability plus cost savings.

    Oh I almost forgot about SUSE and their small business server, but edirectory is a pain to set up. The one thing about AD is that the schemas are set up for you and designed with SMB's in mind (Even though people scale deployments up and up) edirectory is very powerful but complicated to use. Plus they don't make it easy to meld Samba and Edirectory. It's a pain to use.

    Even if Ubuntu took something like Edirectory and made it easy to use out the box. Made file sharing for Windows and Linux machines as easy as it is using Windows and AD that would be sweet. Even apple has done this with their server (Using all the same underlying software that is available to Ubuntu developers. Mac server is a great example)

    I know I am having a pipe dream. But I can wish can't I? LOL!
    • Experiences

      I've no experience with Ubuntu server. Does it have any stand-out features for a business environment?
  • Easy to support multiple Linux distros

    As long as developers are linking with standard libraries, and users are keeping their Linux installations up to date, this really isn't a big deal.

    In short, the "will ISVs support more than two Linux distros" question is a red herring. The ISV that employs me has had little or no trouble supporting all recent Linux distros and I suspect it's the same for most other proprietary developers on Linux.
    John L. Ries
    • OK if that is so true why

      do you need to know the distro before installing the software?
      • Do you?

        I've rarely, if ever seen such a requirement. Normally, the worst case is someone hands you an RPM that has to be converted to the native package format and then you have to install some additional libraries.
        John L. Ries
  • RE: Ubuntu's corporate ready 8.04 is released but is three a crowd in Linux market?

    The one thing you have to remember is that open source leads to new things and concepts. Just ask Astrum Inc. http://www.astruminc.com what astrum did was to develop the first SUSE based Solution Stack using Novell technology. What they produced and what the independent testing reported was a beast of an appliance and Astrum published the reports on it's website was the first ever Identity based encryption system that can target users who have access to critical data or compliant data and harden policies that are compliance mandated. Lock them down in the appliance and integrate nCipher HSM Encryption Card into eDirectory then developed a key management system that never exposes any part of the key. Now according to nCipher as told to me at RSA this makes the Astrum solution the only solution to meet the up coming FIPS 3 compliance changes and make this appliance very unique in the market space.
    The problem:
    The concept was presented to Novell under NDA two years ago in 2006 and promises where made protection agreements signed and software groups were worked with to ensure no competitive issues may arise. They did not! So Astrum shared with Novell executives the plan that at the end of the day would map 8 of the PCI requirements to the appliance and all Novell products could sit on top. What happened is Astrum became the first ever to develop and Novell based solution stack using SUSE enterprise in a appliance only to have it stolen from them!.. Hence the following links.
    So if the solution is so new why expose a concept to a company who will steal it if it has enough market impact and when the solution has ability to change a business direction for a major software company like Astrum did for Novell. Prior to 07 from what I understand Novell couldn't spell compliance much less understand an appliance?
    Develop for Novell on SUSE or jeOS, NO WAY!!!
    • With Open Source Software

      You never lose by promoting another OSS project.
      tracy anne
  • Yes, three's a crowd... but the one to kick out is SLED.

    And Microsoft's infection of SLED with "secret sauce" under an agreement which will terminate quite soon (from an Enterprise perspective) is a high-risk choice. So the one we absolutely don't need is SLED.

    Yeah, it works with Windoze. But after you've bitten into the "convenience" in a big way, I think Mr. Ballmer and his minions are gonna set the hook hard and reel you in-- forcing migrating all of your SLED "Linux" boxes back to Windoze by changing the agreement.

    Novel went for the quick money, and didn't seriously consider their long-term viability after becoming a "Microsoft Partner".

    I really think SLED's ultimate fate is already cast in stone, and inviting this "stone guest" to Dinner at your corporation will turn out very badly (as it did for Don Giovanni). Keep Red Hat, consider using Ubuntu, but it's smart to let SLED die WITHOUT letting it infect your corporation. If it already has, start migrating away now, before Microsoft Corp. pulls the rug out from under you.

    If you haven't read the agreement carefully, look again.
    Rick S._z
  • There's already been 3 Ubuntu makes it 4

    In none US markets Mandriva, with their very serious focus on the desktop and their Corporate Server, has always been the 3rd one Ubuntu is merely an over rated, by the likes of ZDNet bloggers, 4th.
    tracy anne
    • Of course...

      Here I was thinking the Yankee group were a reliable source of information...


      ...but they didn't mention Mandriva.
      • Mandriva

        Mandriva is mentioned in the accompanying graph of Hourly Per Year Downtime per Server:

        • Whoops - Fair call

          I'll wear that. I apologise, tracey anne.

          "Other Linux (e.g. TurboLinux, Mandriva etc.)"

          I'm still not convinced Mandriva is an obvious third, but I won't misquote to argue a point.

          I'll be quiet now ;-)
    • I was a silver club member for a couple years

      I used to use Mandriva, I use Ubuntu now.
      I liked Mandriva, but being locked out of certain updates depending on club membership tier level left me wanting, or having to get things the hard way. As a distribution Mandriva is excellent, but my real world experience has me preferring Ubuntu.

      At the end of the day though, what it really boils down to is, does the distribution you use allow you to effectively and efficiently get your work done. If it does, then don't change, if it leaves you wanting then start researching.

      I'm not a brand loyalist, I'll leave Ubuntu in a heartbeat if I find something that works better for ME, and I'd never tell someone else to leave a distro that is working for them.

      I don't think Ubuntu is over rated, I think that its flat silly easy to use, it has no membership requirements, and its community is currently the best I've been involved with. You only get that kind of word of mouth rating if its true.

      Anyway theres my 2 cents on it. Long live Mandriva, I like them alot, and Long live Redhat, I'm happy to hear they are looking at desktops again, I left them for Mandrake back when they ditched and set up the Fedora project.
  • Competition Breed Innovation

    Competition is good for innovation, I know, this isn't something that MS or Apple want getting around, but in practice its true.

    If threes a crowd, then may the best distribution win, until something better comes along. Moral of the story, if you want to stay in the game, then keep raising the bar.

    MS had better get that message or I fear that a huge corporation will fall. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of MS products, but I am a fan of people staying employed. Apple should consider these things seriously as well, they seem to be straying ever nearer to the MS model.

    Closed source is fine, I actually enjoy commercial software, and indeed I buy it when appropriate for my Linux systems; however, proprietary file extensions, codec's, and their ilk are never appropriate. If you want my business you'll lock me in with continued innovation, not with proprietary gimmicks; I have a cure for proprietary mal-ware, I just don't use it as there is plenty of good cross platform alternatives that do not require me to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to get a simple task done, all while then making me stand on my head for support when the inevitable "ruh-roh" happens.

    Choice is good, its good for everyones bottom line, vendor and consumer alike.
  • RE: Ubuntu's corporate ready 8.04 is released but is three a crowd in Linux market?

    "???While HP continued to closely monitor demand for pre-loaded Linux PC offerings all of our regions around world, we are not seeing significant customer demand for expansion of our Linux plans to include Ubuntu,??? said Tiffany Smith, a spokeswoman for HP Personal Systems Group.""

    This lack of insight is what causes me to have to work harder to accomplish the same task. I bought an HP Pavilion, I had to also endure a MS tax with the machine, which to this day has never booted into Windows, I scrubbed it as soon as it arrived and installed Ubuntu.

    I did ask the phone rep for a Linux system, but she had no clue, and I seriously doubt forwarded the request up the chain. Given the HP order model, and CS knowledge that it exists, and that its doubtful that requests are are being recorded I can't imagine that HP really even knows about the marketability of the Linux Desktop in a real and meaningful way.