Larry Ellison's prediction that Linux will triumph over Microsoft may seem a little far-fetched. But Simon Moores believes it could happen ... eventually.
On the last occasion that I dared question the predictive talent of Oracle CEO and clairvoyant Larry Ellison, I received a call from the company’s headquarters in California to set the record straight.
Ellison is rather more flamboyant than Bill Gates or Scott McNealy and, when he tells us that a technology is about to take over the world or, indeed, collapse under its own weight of code, I’m inclined to try and separate the potential from the wishful thinking.
On this occasion, Ellison is predicting that Linux will, very soon, wipe Microsoft out of the data centre. I simply can't see Microsoft surrendering without a huge struggle over the future of enterprise computing.
Preferring not to exchange predictions with Ellison, Microsoft chief security officer Stuart Okin argues, "This fight to maintain the datacentre will, ultimately, benefit customers in the sense of increased security, reliability and service."
Ellison has based his argument on the damage that has been inflicted on Microsoft from the Open Source Apache Web server, which has displaced Microsoft’s own Internet Information Server (IIS) which, Netcraft claims, runs a poor second to Apache for reasons that I suspect are mostly linked to worries over security, rather than concerns over productivity or return on investment.
In defence of the IIS track record, Okin adds, "You can run a highly secure and highly reliable IIS solution today if you surround it with the correct people, processes and technology."
This time Ellison is, I believe, at least half right with his predictions. And I can’t argue with his opinion that Microsoft will very soon face a challenge to its Office suite monopoly as Sun Microsystems’ OpenOffice.org suite, which he describes as “almost usable", becomes more pervasive. Leading independently minded and Linux-friendly companies, such as Sony, will start to explore a future that's no longer dominated by Microsoft productivity applications, particularly in the developing world.
Microsoft is, of course, very conscious of the creeping threat to its enterprise business from a growing and rather different kind of "coalition" - Hewlett Packard, IBM, Oracle and Sun Microsystems - two of which are close Microsoft allies and are now busily promoting Linux and increasingly, the new one-size-fits-most utility computing model to their enterprise customers.
So will Larry’s vision of Linux ultimately booting Microsoft out of the datacentre prevail? Ellison does not appear to expect an overnight victory and neither do I.
I believe that there will be stiff resistance from Microsoft’s large enterprise customers who might not be so happy with the idea of platform change without tangible benefits.
After all, replacing a server might take only days, but releasing Microsoft’s grip on the datacentre could take much longer.
What do you think?
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Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of leading industry analyst Dr Simon Moores of Zentelligence.
Acting globally, Zentelligence (Research) advises governments, suppliers, business and the media on the evolution, application and delivery of leading-edge technologies and specialises in the areas of eGovernment and information security.
For further information on Zentelligence and its research, presentation and analyst services visit www.zentelligence.com