Use of the Unix operating system is set to fall as users turn to Windows and Linux to run datacentre systems, analyst firm Gartner has predicted.
Speaking at this month's ITexpo conference in Cannes, Gartner analyst Andy Butler said, "During the next five years, new implementations of Unix will go into steady decline."
The analyst group has seen a 70% drop in the number of users buying upper mid-range Unix servers. Butler said businesses were migrating to alternative technologies. "There will be a significant role for Windows and Linux in the datacentre," he said.
According to Gartner, Linux servers running x86 Intel or AMD processors were capable of replacing four-way Risc Unix servers. It said businesses were showing a preference towards commodity server hardware that could be linked together in a scale-out architecture to improve performance.
In addition, Gartner expects Linux to take a big step forward in terms of security and scalability by 2008 with the release of kernel 2.8.
The impact of this migration from Unix will be a shift in priority for application developers. Phil Dawson, research vice-president at Gartner, said Linux and Windows were quickly becoming tier one platforms and, as such, developers were targeting them first for new application development. He said Unix was becoming a tier two platform. The impact of this would mean that, over time, Unix users would have to wait longer for new functionality.
According to Dawson, the Xen open source hypervisor project, which provides an x86 virtual machine monitor, will be a launchpad for establishing Linux in the datacentre.
He said the biggest growth area for Linux applications would be databases, business intelligence and datawarehouses. For instance, Oracle's database strategy is based on its Real Application Clusters technology, for which Linux is the preferred platform.
Dawson predicted that application servers and enterprise resource planning software would be big growth areas for Linux.
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