VNU Net: ISV reluctance holds back Linux [Gartner]May 06, 2000, 12:23 (12 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Leyden)
By John Leyden, VNU Net
Lack of enthusiasm for Linux among independent software vendors (ISVs) will slow down the progress of the operating system into mainstream and mission-critical environments, according to a report from researcher Gartner.
The company predicts that only around a third (30 to 35 per cent) of ISVs supporting server applications on Unix or Windows will support Linux by 2002.
George Weiss, an analyst at Gartner, said: "ISVs are warming to the future prospects of Linux, but many key ISVs still harbour reservations and do not yet see sufficient enterprise demand." General IT manager interest has not yet transcended to mainstream mission-critical environments, he added.
"Without a big push to drive users from the curious to the committed, ISVs will withhold resources."
Gartner advises users to confine Linux to roles in which current ISV support is strongest, such as web server and network infrastructure.
"Willingness to deploy Linux in scalable database management systems and mission-critical applications should be predicated on sincere long-term commitments of hardware vendors and ISVs that can guarantee enterprise levels of support provided for their other operating systems," said Weiss.
In around 50 ISV interviews conducted by Gartner, the most frequent cause of rejection of the operating system was pinned to lack of user demand.
ISVs enthusiastic about Linux tend to be the emerging vendors with ecommerce solutions, as well as those with infrastructure and appliance products who believe Linux eliminates the cost of porting to multiple Unix variants.
In contrast, those ISVs not committed to Linux also tend to have a significant vested interest in legacy applications tied to alternative platforms.
"A preponderance of them have nurtured applications through painstaking years of development, improvements and maintenance, and harbour a natural reluctance to port to Linux from fear as well as costs," said Weiss.
Chief among these vendors' fears is a hidden anxiety that the philosophy of open source software may exert pressure on their licensing practices and fees.
Weiss said another worry is the uncertainty of Linux's development, which he believes lags behind Unix functionality by three to four years, and concerns about possible fragmentation of the freeware operating system.