Unix to Linux migration: Five Gartner tips for Indian businesses

Is Linux the new Unix? Will it prove true for your critical server infrastructure? Join us as we take you through Gartner’s Linux migration recommendations.

Oracle’s unique position of supporting both Linux and Unix begs the obvious question as to its position in near future in the Unix versus Linux equation. As far as enterprise requirements are concerned, which operating system will come out tops?  Is Linux the new Unix?

From the Indian perspective, Unix still runs strong in terms of its install-base, according to Gartner’s figures. While many in the industry seem to be comfortable with their existing Unix infrastructure, an equal number is concerned over whether this is the correct strategy. The main question being asked in this context is whether Linux can replace Unix in mission critical applications.

Linux's strengths and weaknesses in Indian enterprise environments today

Gartner’s 2011 ERP OS market trending report shows Linux implementations to be rising sharply, while Unix is on the decline. This trend is driven by the advent of Linux development platforms for SAP and Oracle, coupled with Linux’s RAS and performance benefits provided by x86 architecture. Linux’s global market share grew from 10% in 2005 to nearly 33% in 2011, while Unix has shrunk to 14% in 2011 (from 45% in 2005).

Looking at server momentum trending for ERP OLTP DBMS setups, Linux is gaining ground. While market share for the Oracle/Unix combination has dropped from 45% in 2005 to 25% in 2011, market share for the Oracle/Linux combination has risen from 5% in 2005 to 24% in 2011. This phenomenon is again driven by x86 performance and RAS. The prevailing tension between SAP and Oracle further fuels this switch.

Given this context, Gartner’s recommendations for Indian enterprises looking at procuring/refreshing server infrastructure are:

  1. For those running a mixed Unix/Linux shop: Budget Unix to gradually decline in your spending proportion over the next five to seven years. A three to five year view should be taken during any refresh. In this context, organizations are exercising two Unix to Linux migration options.

    One option is to keep your ERP core on Unix, and shift all peripheral functions to Linux. The second way to do it is to go cold turkey, and migrate your entire Unix footprint to an x86/Linux combination. Indian CIOs need to plan their strategies depending on their existing Unix footprint, and start exploring alternatives for moving workloads to non-Unix environments.

  2. Ramp up commodity based infrastructure on Linux as a rising proportion of your expenditure: Linux features are constantly improving. As an alternative to Unix, a combination of x86 and Linux is a good bet for enterprises looking to future proof their investments. Linux solutions available for fabric based infrastructures also merit consideration.

  3. Give Linux serious ERP attention in terms of deployment and planning: Linux has grown at a furious pace in the market in terms of workloads. As figures indicate, this would be a sweet spot for organizations to consider for future ERP deployments. When looking at ERP workloads, aggressively consider including a Linux-x86 combination as part of your infrastructure portfolio.

  4. Continuously evaluate major Linux distributors to avoid lock-in and inflexible contracts: As part of your vendor evaluation, look at cost structures, enterprise support and ongoing R&D investments. Be wary on contracts with limited flexibility and opportunity for renegotiation to get the best ROI.

  5. Form an internal R&D advisory and testing board: This is essential in orderto test code for potential mission critical deployments. This will help your organization to move from non-critical to mission critical deployments on Linux. Rather than carelessly jumping on to the Linux bandwagon, it will make sense to have a team that constantly evaluates products and partners in the ecosystem.

Given Linux’s gains, Gartner recommends that ERP application deployments be driven toward Linux and Windows, as Unix and other platforms are believed to be moving into niche segments. Gartner predicts that by 2014, 30% of current applications running on proprietary Unix will migrate to open source software (OSS)-based Linux operating systems that run on x86 based commodity hardware platforms. It’s best to catch up while there is still time.

This Unix to Linux migration tip is based on the excerpt of a talk presented at the Gartner IT infrastructure operations & data center summit 2012 in Mumbai by Naveen Mishra, principal research analyst, Gartner.

(Compiled by Varun Haran)

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