Unix Server Market Melting Away

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Hewlett Packard, Sun, and IBM used to own the high-end hardware, high-priced proprietary OS market; all three support open-source operating systems today and that could accelerate the market’s continued shrinkage.

The multi-billion dollar market for Unix declined in 2005, by some $51 million in spending to a final total of just over $2 billion, Information Week’s Charles Babcock reported.

In the case of IBM and HP, both companies have seen the writing on the wall, scribbled there in a penguin’s handwriting. IBM has an entire section of IBM.com devoted to Linux. HP offers a similar presence. Both companies do their part to support open source projects as well.

Babbage doesn’t see a tipping point for Unix, but rather a gradually fading of the high-end Unix market. “Unix’s decline will be like watching ice melt on a 33-degree [F] day,” he wrote.

Sun may have saved some of the high-end Unix hardware market by open sourcing Solaris, its one-time proprietary operating system. Babbage cited how the state of North Dakota took long-time Sun CEO Scott McNealy’s pal, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, at his word when Ellison tapped Solaris as “the preferred development and deployment platform for Oracle.”

Ellison further extolled Sun’s open source move with Solaris, which Babbage cited as North Dakota’s reason for keeping its Oracle database on Solaris instead of moving it to Linux. Sun has been competing on cost with Red Hat for operating system support as well.

The decline Babbage predicted for the likes of IBM’s AIX and HP’s HP-UX operating systems may end up moving at a quicker pace. If more organizations, especially the Fortune 500 ones, decide that a Googlesque co-location facility full of no-name hardware running AMD processors and Linux make more sense financially for certain applications, that 33 degree temperature may rise uncomfortably.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Unix Server Market Melting Away
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