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Linux faces enterprise applications challenge

Antony Adshead

SuSe is set to launch the next version of its desktop Linux distribution later this month. Based on the 2.4.21 Linux kernel, the operating system supports both 32-bit and 64-bit applications running on the Athlon 64 AMD processor, which it hopes will drive adoption of open source software deeper into the enterprise.

Although many companies including SuSE, Red Hat, HP, IBM and SAP have been developing increasingly powerful, enterprise-ready Linux software, users are still reluctant to run Linux in a mission-critical datacentre environment.

Linux has gained popularity in datacentres as a cost-effective alternative to proprietary Unix, but few companies run their enterprise applications on the platform, said Tony Lock, senior analyst at Bloor Research.

“In the infrastructure space Linux has achieved general respectability. It is not questioned as viable for web servers and firewalls – devices at the edge.

“The big challenge of the next 12 to 18 months is whether it can move to serve core business applications – will we see Linux running SAP and Oracle, for example, rather than these suppliers merely declaring their support?”

Linux has some high-profile enterprise users, including Unilever, Safeway and Orange. Despite such support, Lock said doubts about scalability and systems management could slow the take-up of the operating system.

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