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Many organisations are navel gazing and assessing ways of increasing productivity and decreasing costs in order to stay afloat in the current business climate. As a company’s IT spend is one of the larger costs of running a business, it makes sense to look closely at how you run your IT shop. Linux may just answer both prayers: offering increased productivity at decreased cost. So why is Linux such a successful solution, which companies have made the switch, and how will the Linux jobs landscape change in the future?

1. The Linux Success Story

Linux is celebrating 20 years in the market this year and its success is due largely to a strategic move made by the father of Linux, Linus Torvalds, on going to market. In cahoots with Richard Stallman, the creator of the world’s first free software license GNU GPL (General Public License), he gave the world the kernel of an Operating System, offering developers the freedom to use, adapt, and redistribute the program.
Linux migration
This led to the sprouting and multiplication of a global movement of technical expertise being offered for free to community-based developments. This enhanced the Linux kernel and created a space for developers to create free software to run on Linux that is competitive with the commercial software currently meeting business needs (e.g. Word processing, spread-sheeting, email and calendaring based applications). PC World published this interesting article outlining the comparable Linux version of most Windows applications. It’s worth a read.

Linux Foundation estimates that in 2011, 14 million lines of code will be written to further develop the Linux kernel. That represents phenomenal growth over 20 years. The Linux Foundation website states that a new version of Linux is released every three months with more added features, enhancements and security fixes. Given that the value proposition associated with switching to the dynamic and ever- evolving Linux is so tangible, it is little wonder organisations are making the shift.

2. The Linux Edge: why are companies making the switch?

The Linux Foundation recently conducted a survey of its enterprise users, who are predominantly large organisations and in many cases, early adopters of technology. The results were as follows:

  • An increased number of companies responded that their Linux deployments were migrations from Windows, more so than any other platform, including UNIX. 
  • According to the report “66 percent of users surveyed say that their Linux deployments are brand new (“Greenfield”) deployments.” 
  • A small percentage indicated they’re using the cloud or plan on migrating in the short-term future. Of the users who are using Cloud technology, approximately 70 percent use Linux as their primary platform. 
  • The report highlighted that the primary driver for organisations making the switch was technical superiority, followed by cost and then security. 

The Linux foundation’s analysis shows there to be a “major shift in user behaviour”, indicating that organisations deploying Linux are staying with the platform and abandoning legacy OS’s when deploying new services.

What’s more, this shift in perception in terms of business drivers is an important one. No longer is the Linux differentiating factor based on Open Source freedom from licensing costs. The business community is coming to grips with the quality of the platform’s technical performance. This is due to the Linux global development community’s dedication to refining the platform and building comparable tools and applications that run on Linux. The developments challenge commercial products like the Microsoft Office suite of applications.

Companies value the following features of the Linux platform:

  • High availability: A Linux server is available. Even when you install and have  upgraded the version of the platform, you don’t need to reboot the server. Like UNIX, the Linux uptime can be measured in years. This is an attractive feature making Microsoft servers look less stable, since scheduled downtimes need to be organised each time systems enhancements are made in order to reboot. 
  • High Security: With Linux, you no longer need antivirus software installed. It’s a highly secure system and the global development community is constantly looking for ways to enhance the security. With each version released of the platform, comes added security fixes making it more robust. 
  • Excellent Support: Linux has at its disposal, a community of dedicated  developers from around the globe working on ensuring the product is optimised and secure. This support is offered free with every download of the latest version of the distribution of Linux you choose to use. For large corporations switching to Linux, publicly listed distributions such as RedHat have comprehensive support structures available offering 24/7/365 days a year support of your platform so that your mission critical applications are in expert hands when you need it.

3. Which companies have made the switch?

You just have to go to the members’ page of the Linux Foundation website to see a detailed list of “Who’s who in the IT zoo” of Linux affiliates and users. Many of the big names like Google, HP, IBM, Fujitsu, NEC, Intel, Novell, Oracle, Citrix, Nokia, Toyota, DELL, are users and this is but a small sample.

What’s more, Linux is everywhere: 75 percent of the world’s Stock Exchanges choose Linux as their platform of choice; 95 percent of the world’s super computers run on Linux; web-based applications such as Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and eBay utilise the Linux platform. Even if an organisation hasn’t deployed Linux in their desktop computers, you’d be hard pressed to find a data centre that doesn’t have a swagger of Linux boxes supporting mission critical applications.

According to a recent article in PC World: “Linux continues its entry into the world's largest data centres, onto hundreds of thousands of individual desktops, and it represents a near 100 percent domination of the cloud services industry.”

In fact, there is a school of thought indicating that Linux and OpenSource is the key to success of such Web 2.0 greats as Facebook, Google and Amazon. According to ZDNet, Jim Whitehurst, the CEO of Red Hat, told an industry conference that “Google would not exist today if it were not for Linux. Initially, the business model of throwing it out and making it free and scalable... those business models only work if you can start them and get innovation going cheaply. If you can’t innovate cheaply, the amount of innovation stalls.”

4. The exponential growth of Linux in the telecoms sector

Looking at the exponential growth of the smartphone market, according to Wikipedia: “Android is a free and open source mobile operating system for mobile devices ... led by Google...Android consists of a mobile operating system based on the Linux kernel, with middleware, libraries and APIs written in C and application software running on an application framework which includes Java-compatible libraries based on Apache Harmony.”

In the final quarter of 2010, Canalys (an industry recognised independent technology focused analysis firm) named Android as “the best-selling smartphone platform worldwide”, so more and more users, without being aware of it, are actually carrying Linux in their pockets.

5. Linux related workforce needed

The use of Linux will grow exponentially as more and more organisations shift to Cloud thinking with regards to managing the delivery of IT services to their workforce. Already, Linux has clear dominance in this arena whilst adoption of the technology is in the early stages. As Cloud adoption gains critical mass, Linux system admin skills will be highly sought after. Even if organisations don’t flock to replace their desktops – Data centres will continue to rely on the Linux stability, high availability and security to house and power their applications and data.

Also, with the exponential rise of the Android dominance in the Smartphone arena, Linux skills are sure to continue to be in hot demand.

It’s a good time to be on the Linux band wagon! It’s blue skies ahead. Why not post your resume online on LinuxCareer to be connected to employers waiting to employ skilled Linux professionals like you. If you’re not yet registered, it’s easy! Register as a job seeker today to submit your CV for the attention of employers seeking Linux professionals.

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