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Red Hat eyes Unix-to-Linux migrations in emerging ASEAN markets

Open source bigwig is starting its new fiscal year looking at Unix-to-Linux migrations in markets such as Thailand and Indonesia

Red Hat will kick off its new fiscal year in ASEAN with an eye on Unix-to-Linux migrations in emerging markets.

In an exclusive interview with Computer Weekly, Damien Wong, Red Hat’s vice-president and general manager for Asian growth and emerging markets, said enterprises in less mature markets still maintain a sizeable Unix footprint, offering Red Hat an opportunity to help them “do more with less”.

Later this year, Red Hat is expected to announce the final release of the eighth version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), which supports containers natively and is well suited to run mission-critical applications on commodity hardware, said Wong.

Red Hat’s latest flagship operating system (OS) is currently in beta, and offers a slew of new features, including application streams that make it possible to update user software packages without needing to make major updates to the underlying OS.

Asked about the size of the Unix-to-Linux migration opportunity in the region he is responsible for, Wong said that although there are no quantifiable ballparks, it is “fairly significant” in less mature markets. “In emerging markets, there are probably as many instances of Unix servers as there are RHEL servers,” he said.

In Indonesia and Thailand, for example, legacy Unix infrastructure is still prevalent at many enterprises, said Wong, and moving to RHEL is an easy choice for enterprises seeking cost savings. “It’s a simple, risk-free switch, and lays the foundation for their digital transformation journey,” he said.

By moving from what Wong described as “fairly expensive, proprietary platforms that are not as interoperable” to open source, open standards-based technologies, he said enterprises would be better able to tap innovation from open communities through containers and application programming interfaces (APIs).

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Banks have already started to adopt APIs, said Wong, driven by the open banking movement that makes customer data available to financial technology startups and consumers who will be able to access services in a more user-friendly way.

Wong expects existing beta users to be among the first adopters of RHEL 8, while more risk-averse enterprises might wait for the first update to the new OS before taking it up.

“My sense is that there will be a fairly significant take-up,” he said. “A lot of folks who are involved in digital transformation initiatives will want to have some of the capabilities in RHEL 8, along with the container platform, and API and middleware integration capabilities.”

With Linux accounting for a majority of public cloud workloads, the open source OS is outgrowing and displacing Unix and other proprietary operating systems. According to Gartner, the RISC (reduced instruction set computer) and Itanium Unix market has continued to struggle, with shipments down 52.8% and revenue down 46.7% during the first quarter of 2018.

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