Gartner Evaluates the Progress of Linux in latest Hype Cycle

Open-source operating system making progress, but still two to five years short of mainstream use

Egham, UK — 7 September 2005 — Gartner's Hype Cycle for Linux 2005 illustrates how, over the past two years, Linux has matured as an established operating system environment, primarily on one-to four-processors. However, Gartner found that for eight processors and beyond, Linux must demonstrate performance, security and application proof points based on the 2.6 version of the kernel and that the biggest test continues to be whether it can function as a data centre server for mission-critical applications.

The Gartner Hype Cycle for Linux 2005 is a graphical representation of the maturity, adoption and business application of Linux. The Hype Cycle shows that Linux is, as a mission-critical system, almost half way along the technology trigger - the first phase of a Hype Cycle in which the product has generated significant press interest. This represents some progress from 2004, even though leading-edge organisations are at an early phase in deploying it. By the end of 2005, Gartner expects increased commercialisation of Linux, such as improved storage and systems management. At this time, Linux is used primarily for WebSphere and infrastructure applications on mainframes, Web services on blades and racks, computer clusters and some Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) systems.

On the desktop, the positions are based on Linux's functional use, and on its degree of complexity and cost for mainstream businesses, mainstream consumers and data entry. Data entry is the most promising, having passed the Trough of Disillusionment, a period when a technology does not live up to its over-inflated expectations and rapidly becomes unfashionable. Mainstream business use of Linux is nearing the Peak of Inflated Expectations, where the costs of migration may exceed the cost benefits. This phase is characterised by over-enthusiasm and unrealistic projections when flurries of well publicised activity by technology leaders results in some successes, but more failures, as the technology is pushed to its limits.

The positions on the Gartner Hype Cycle for Linux 2005 take into account factors such as the open-source development community, the conversion of open-source software into products by system and storage vendors, support and marketing strategies of Linux distributors and hardware vendors, and the costs required to move from legacy platforms. Some markets, such as blade and compute-intensive clustered servers, will be quite advanced; others will fall behind because of lack of richness in manageability and availability.

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