Absolutely, especially Linux on the mainframe. That for me is the prime opportunity for servers. There is a spectacular opportunity to take large scale integration efforts.
In what cases would you advise your clients to use Linux?
For example, I have a client that is very zOS focused. Mainframe folks. They also have a Windows contingent but have very little UNIX skills. It would be a significant cultural shift for them to deal with switching to Linux both from a skills as well as an applications standpoint.
In that case, Linux on the mainframe would be a good transition path for them since they already have mainframe skills. They have a proliferation of servers and a significant portion of them would do better in a Linux environment, but without the necessary skills it would be a difficult transition.
But the ability to put Linux on the mainframe still allows them to use all the mainframe management capabilities so they can deal with it more effectively.
When would you advise that they don't use Linux?
If they are already highly committed to an extensive application portfolio or skills. It is often an expensive transition moving to Linux.
One thing people always make a mistake with when looking at platform transition is they only look at the cost of the server box or the server operating system. But you also have your backup software, disaster recovery software, system management tools, your skill sets, your databases and what they run on.
It is the total cost of deploying a solution, not just a platform. If the cost of moving the solution does not make sense, there is no logical business reason to do it.
There is no such thing as technology for technology's sake any more. It has to make business sense.
What still needs to occur to with Linux so we see broader adoption?
A consistent system management tools and a wider portfolio of enterprise-class application support. On the desktop we need a consistent user experience and more applications, in particular an office suite. The StarOffice/OpenOffice suite is getting there, but it is not up to the level of Microsoft Office yet.
Do you see Linux as replacing UNIX, or working side by side?
I think Linux will replace UNIX eventually. The UNIX market has always been so fragmented between all the implementations. Linux, because of binary compatibility, has a better chance of adoption
What do you see as the future of Linux?
I believe it is going to become Microsoft's worst nightmare. As it matures, as it becomes a consistent human experience for the platform, we will see widespread adoption. It is too scary for most people right now, too much of an unknown, too much of a geek tool. It is not mainstream yet.
When will it be mainstream?
Twenty-four months maybe. It depends what happens with Novell and their work with SuSE, Ximian and putting that all together.