Heavy Lifting

Welcome to the July issue of Linux Magazine. Things always slow down a bit at LM every July, and this year is no exception. But that makes the lazy days of summer great for taking stock of where we're at, and this seems like as good a time as any to take a step back and focus on "The Big Picture." So pull up a hammock, pour yourself a glass of iced tea, and let's reflect ...

Welcome to the July issue of Linux Magazine. Things always slow down a bit at LM every July, and this year is no exception. But that makes the lazy days of summer great for taking stock of where we’re at, and this seems like as good a time as any to take a step back and focus on “The Big Picture.” So pull up a hammock, pour yourself a glass of iced tea, and let’s reflect …

This has certainly been a tough year so far for the economy in general and technology companies specifically. The tough economic times seem to be driving the trends that are shaping the industry. On the tip of every executive’s and IT manager’s tongue are words like consolidation, cost savings, and return on investment. And as we all know, the words that roll off their tongues tend to fall on the people who need to actually get the work done — sysadmins, developers, and everyone else in the trenches.

In fact, that’s one of the funny things about this downturn. In many cases, those “in the trenches” have been major supporters of Linux and Open Source for years, and now management, looking for ways to make things more efficient, is figuring out that, “Hey, maybe those techies are onto something with this Linux thing …” So in its usual “stand traditional ideas on their head” kind of way, Linux seems to actually be benefitting from this downturn.

Here’s one anecdotal sign that this is happening — people used to ask, “How can you make money from Free Software/ Linux?” Now they’re asking, “How do you make money if you’re selling anything related to technology?”

But in an ironic twist, those who are left to do the “heavy lifting” to bring Linux to market are finding that Linux is actually one of the easiest sales they can make during this economic crunch. In all the conversations I’ve had recently with executives from HP, IBM, and the other “big boys,” they’ve said that all their customers want to talk about is Linux.

And while you could say that the major IT vendors are adopting Linux because their customers are asking for it, I think there’s another variable to this equation. The cost savings and efficiency that Linux and Open Source bring to the table actually operate on two fronts: the demand side and the supply side.

The demand side is what I was just talking about — the fact that companies are looking to save money on IT, and they’re asking for Linux because it can do that. But there are benefits to the suppliers of Linux as well.

Back in February when we spoke to HP CEO Carly Fiorina, this is what she had to say on the subject: “With regard to Open Source, we view this as an opportunity for HP to refocus its R&D higher in the value stack. No company will ever have enough R&D dollars. If the community and HP work together to develop solutions, that simply means that HP can spend more resources on developing more value for our customers.”

HP and Compaq just completed their merger a few weeks ago, and it’s clear that they’re putting a lot of attention into the new company’s Linux strategy. Michael Capellas, the former CEO of Compaq and new President of HP, was recently quoted as saying that Linux is going to “eviscerate” the mid-range Unix market.

That’s quite a statement. But then, Linux is quite an operating system. The whole thing reminds me of that old saying; “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Looks to me like Linux is just starting to flex its muscles.

See you next month,

Adam M. Goodman


Adam Signature

.Editor & Publisher

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