One big development is "context awareness". For the most part, Operating Systems assume they are one-to-one with the hardware they are running on, and Hypervisors like PowerVM, VMware, Xen and Hyper-V have worked by giving OS guests the appearance that this is the case. However, there is growing technology for OS guests to be "aware" they are running as guests, and to be aware of other guests running on the same Hypervisor.
The analyst divided up Operating Systems into three categories:
Operating systems that are typically used to support other OS by offering Web support or other infrastructure. Linux on POWER was an example given.
- DBMS/Industry Vertical Applications
Operating systems that are strong for Data Base Management Systems (DBMS) and vertical industry applications. z/OS, AIX, HP-UX, HP NonStop, HP OpenVMS were given as examples.
- General Purpose for a variety of applications
Operating systems that can run a range of applications, from Web/Infrastructure, DBMS/Vertical Apps, to others. Windows, Linux x86 and Solaris were offered as examples.
The analyst indicated that what really drove the acceptance or decline of Operating Systems were the applications available. When Software Development firms must choose which OS to support, they typically have to evaluate the different categories of marketplace acceptance:
- For developing new applications: Windows-x86 and Linux-x86 are must-haves now
- Declining but still valid are UNIX-RISC and UNIX-Itanium platforms
- Viable niche are Non-x86 Windows (such as Windows-Itanium) and non-x86 Linux (Linux on POWER, Linux on System z)
- Entrenched Legacy including z/OS and IBM i (formerly known as i5/OS or OS/400)
For the UNIX world, there is a three-legged stool. If any leg breaks, the entire system falls apart.
- The CPU architecture: Itanium, SPARC and POWER based chipsets
- Operating System: AIX, HP-UX and Solaris
- Software stacks: SAP, Oracle, etc.
Of these, the analyst consider IBM POWER running AIX to be the safest investment. For those who prefer HP Integrity, consider waiting until "Tukwilla" codename project which will introduce new Itanium chipset in 2Q2010. For Sun SPARC, the European Union (EU) delay could impact user confidence in this platform. The future of SPARC remains now in the hands of Fujitsu and Oracle.
What platform will the audience invest in most over the next 5 years?
- 45 percent Windows
- 14 percent UNIX
- 37 percent Linux
- 4 percent z/OS
A survey of the audience about current comfort level of Solaris:
- 10 percent: still consider Solaris to be Strategic for their data center operations and will continue to use it
- 25 percent: will continue to use Solaris, but in more of a tactical way on a case-by-case basis
- 30 percent: have already begun migrating away
- 35 percent: Do not run Solaris
The analyst mentioned Microsoft's upcoming Windows Server 2008 R2, which will run only on 64-bit hardware but support both 32-bit and 64-bit applications. It will provide scalability up to 256 processor cores. Microsoft wants Windows to get into the High Performance Computing (HPC) marketplace, but this is currently dominated by Linux and AIX. The analyst's advice to Microsoft: System Center should manage both Windows and Linux.
Has Linux lost its popularity? The analyst indicated that companies are still running mission critical applications on non-Linux platforms, primarily z/OS, Solaris and Windows. What does help Linux are old UNIX Legacy applications, the existence of OpenSolaris x86, Oracle's Enterprise Linux, VMware and Hyper-V support for Linux, Linux on System z mainframe, and other legacy operating systems that are growing obsolete. One issue cited with Linux is scalability. Performance on systems with more than 32 processor cores is unpredictable. More mature operating systems like z/OS and AIX have stronger support for high-core environments.
A survey of the audience of which Linux or UNIX OS were most strategic to their operations resulted in the following weighted scores:
- 140 points: Red Hat Linux
- 71 points: AIX
- 80 points: Solaris
- 40 points: HP-UX
- 41 points: Novell SUSE Linux
- 19 points: Oracle Enterprise Linux
- 29 points: Other
The analyst wrapped up with an incredibly useful chart that summarizes the key reasons companies migrate from one OS platform to another:
|Migration||To Windows||To Linux||To UNIX|
|From Windows||X||Reduce Costs, Adopt HPC||DBMS, Complex projects|
|From Linux||Availability of Admin Skills||X||Performance, Mission Critical Applications|
|From UNIX||Availability of Apps, leave incumbent UNIX server vendor||Consolidation, Reduce Costs||X|
Certainly, all three types of operating system have a place, but there are definite trends and shifts in this marketspace.