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Linux is here to stay

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DQW Bureau
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From SMEs to large enterprises, government to corporates, SOHO segment to

hi-end workstation market, Linux is making its presence felt in all their IT

infrastructure. The marketshare for Linux servers is expected to grow by 13.6

percent by 2006, while revenue marketshare is expected to grow by 9 percent by

2007.

The Linux market in India is picking up at varied places like SMBs, large

enterprises, government, edu-cational institutions, hi-end workstations, hi-end

desktops and even the home segment. Moreover, just like other parts of the

world, the Indian indu-stry is also welcoming the open source movement with open

arms. Like any other move-ment, Linux has its pros and cons too. The latter is

equally important to create a balance. Vendors supporting Linux strongly believe

in its potential. But, vendors like Microsoft have a different story to tell

about the open source.

Growth Drivers for Linux



There are several aspects that emerged as growth drivers of Linux after

talking to various vendors. Ashit Panjwani, Mar-com, Novell said,

"Reduction in Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is among the main drivers

fuell-ing the growth of Linux. It provides the most stable and secure platform

to run mission critical applications, this is well accepted in the industry and

is a major driver for Linux gro-wth." Other growth drivers are availability

of Linux on various hardware platforms and sup-port from major industry players.

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Explaining the main forces behind this change in custo-mer's mindshare and

how IBM will tap this potential, Jyothi Satyanathan, Linux Business Manager of

IBM said, "Linux offers better security, producti-vity and most of all,

professi-onal service to customers. This is attracting the customers to shift to

Linux."

According to Nitin Sethi, Workstation Business Manager of HP, the main reason

for Linux's acceptance in the hi-end workstations market, is, "Linux's

availability beyond the traditional unix on high cost hardware is acting as a

key dri-ver for current market status." L Gopalakrishnan, Linux Busi-ness

Manager, Oracle added, "The main advantage that Linux has over other

Operating Systems, is that it comes with open source code based support".

However, having a slightly different overview about this is Abhijit Das,

Manager Platform Strategies, Microsoft, "As per the data available to me,

only 1000 members of the entire open source community can actually do something

with the open source code. That means not every one can amend, make changes or

develop something from the Linux platform".

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He added that vendors supp-orting the Linux OS are sup-porting it with closed

source tools.

More Manpower Needed



For the success of any technological tool, it is essen-tial to have

sufficient manpo-wer to handle it. On this front, Microsoft has a fairly good

amount experience. Abhijit said, "Lack of technical manpo-wer to handle

Linux is an issue. And by looking at the comple-xity of this OS, not everyone

can understand this. So the acceptance of Linux OS will be limited among the

young and average minds of the country. Players like, Red Hat and Novell have to

think on this front".

However, Red Hat has started with Red Hat 'Certified Linux Engineer'

program. Novell too has introduced a certification program for generating techni-cal

manpower to handle Linux.

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Informing about Novell's initiative to spread education on Linux, Ashit

informed. "Novell has an extensive train-ing program through which we

impart sales and technical knowledge to our channel part-ners. We have already

trained more than 500 channel part-ners on our Linux offerings".

For training on Linux-based applications, Oracle has a multi pronged

approach.

Who Going For IT



Explaining about the segme-nts that are attracted towards Linux, IBM's

Jyothi quoted, "Use of Linux is spreading throug-hout the business world

unpre-cedentedly. In all industries, including telecommunications, petroleum,

geophysical scien-ces, financial services, govern-ment, automotive, computer

aided engineering and design; the economics of Linux are simply

overwhelming".

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Talking of Novell's thrust in verticals that are interested in Linux, Ashit

said, "Government is the prime mover in embrac-ing Linux. So that would be

our major thrust area, other seg-ments which look promising include banking and

finance, telecom, manufacturing, BPO".

Moreover, Jyothi also fore-sees that the low cost alterna-tive of Linux is

finding a lot of takers in the SMB segment, and non-metro cities and towns.

Today, most businesses inve-sting in IT are looking very hard at the initial

capital investment, as well as the on-going mainte-nance and license fees that

vendors charge. Once installed, Linux systems require low maintenance, provide a

wide choice of service providers, ren-der restrictive upgrade and maintenance

charges irrelevant and thus save money".

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However, this also indicates that Linux-based applications are especially

important in the SMB space where typically there are few IT personnel in-house.

Unlike others, R Mani-kandan, DGM, Sales and Mark-eting of IT products at LG

believes that Linux has poten-tial business verticals like SOHO, home segment.

Elabora-ting on this, he said, "The maxi-mum units have been sold to the

SOHO segment. Infact, we saw a lot of enthusiasm about Linux in the home

segment, as after seeing live demonstration of Linux OS, a lot of customers

showed keen interest."

Giving a view about Linux with respect to the hi-end work-stations market,

Nitin of HP said, "Key technical-work-station verticals are mechanical

design, electronic design, research-scientific computing, digital content

creation, mathe-matical programming, soft-ware development-led by ISV's

abroad. It is felt that all security conscious hi-end customers are now

gradually moving towards open source OS".

Strategies to motivate



Informing about the initia-tives taken by IBM exclusively for the partners

to expand Linux presence in the market, Jyothi said, "We have programs

available for partners who are ready to go to the market.

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These include our leaders for Linux program and our NT migration program.

They offer co-marketing dollars for demand generation programs, inclusion in our

events, linkage to our sales teams and special education offers".

However, describing HP's strategy to promote Linux, Nitin informed,

"In technical markets, (workstation (WS): prime markets) customers are very

knowledgeable- they need no convincing and go by usage ease and efficiency of

the OS to suit their applications".

As for LG's strategy for pus-hing Linux, Manikandan said, "We are only

into selling Linux-OS based range of PCs. Creating an awareness in the market is

the prime need and we are alre-ady enacting upon the same." Linux provides

a lot of advan-tages over the alternatives OS's in terms of economy, stability

and above all it is open source.

As a part of Oracle's strategy to push Linux, Gopalakrishnan informed,

"Firstly we adopt Linux OS for ourselves. For example, Oracle's internal

e-mail system is all Linux based. We thus share our experiences with customers

and so they get convinced. As of now, almost 75 percent of total servers of

Oracle are Linux based. We want to convert all our servers on Linux-based

OS".

Overcoming Challenges



Commenting on misconce-ptions as a major challenge that are existing in the

market about Linux, Manikandan said, "While the benefits are tangible,

there are also some misconceptions that enter-prises have with respect to Linux's

readiness for the enterprise. They are lack of support, immaturity of products,

lack of applications, vendor splintering, security and lack of skills. We have

been quite successful in overcoming the misconce-ptions of the customers in the

due course with our well-defined services". However, the list of

challenges for Linux is very big as far as Microsoft's Abhijit's views are

concerned.

Faiz Askari with inputs

from Nelson Johnny in Mumbai and Goldie in Bangalore

WHAT THE CHANNEL DEMANDS

q Strong emphasis

should be made on technical manpower generation


q Interaction between vendor and channel

partner needs to be more emphasized


q The vendor should create more awareness

about Linux


q Aggressive efforts required to dispel

misconceptions about open source


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