Summary: 2011 saw, according to IDC, Linux servers grow while Windows and Unix servers numbers shrank. In 2012, Linuxs server future looks brighter than ever.
Linux servers are soaring.
In 2011, we saw, according to IDCs latest Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, factory revenue in the worldwide server market grew for Linux while it shrank for Windows and Unix. What I find especially interesting about this is that IDC doesnt measure when you or your company install Linux on a bare-metal server or a re-purposed server, which is historically how Linux got into companies, but only servers with Linux already pre-installed.
That means more and more customers are asking IBM, HP and Dell, the big three server hardware vendors, for Linux on their hardware. Specifically, IDC found that Linux server demand was positively impacted by high performance computing (HPC) and cloud infrastructure deployments, as hardware revenue improved 2.2% year over year in 4Q11 to $2.6 billion. Linux servers now represent 18.4% of all server revenue, up 1.7 points when compared with the fourth quarter of 2010.
Its competitors? Windows server demand subsided slightly in 4Q11 as hardware revenue decreased 1.5% year over year. Quarterly revenue of $6.5 billion for Windows servers represented 45.8% of overall quarterly factory revenue, up 2.6 points over the prior years quarter.
As has long been the case, Unix is the server operating system that really got knocked around. Unix servers experienced a revenue decline of 10.7% year over year to $3.4 billion representing 24.2% of quarterly server revenue for the quarter. IBM grew Unix server revenue 2.5% year-over-year and gained 7.9 points of Unix server market share when compared with the fourth quarter of 2010.
What that translates into is fourth-ranked Oracle experienced a year-over-year revenue decline of 11.5% in 4Q11 to a 5.2% share of market while Fujitsu, ranked number 5, experienced a 10.5% decrease in factory revenue holding 3.4% revenue share in 4Q10. While Oracle also has a Linux distribution for IDCs hardware server measurement purposes, Oracle and Fujitsu saw their income go down as their Solaris Unix-powered systems continue to decline.
As Jim Zemlin, chairman of The Linux Foundation observed in his blog, IDC attributes some of that Linux success to its role in what the analyst firm calls density-optimized machines, which are really just white box servers, and are responsible for a lot of the growth in the server market. These machines have gained popularity in a space still squeezed on budget and that continues to be commoditized. But there are other factors at play for Linuxs success over its rivals.
These are, Zemlin wrote, Our latest survey of the worlds largest enterprise Linux users found that Total Cost of Ownership, technical superiority and security were the top three drivers for Linux adoption. These points support Linuxs maturity and recent success. Everyone is running their data centers with Linux. Stock exchanges, supercomputers, transportation systems and much more are using Linux for mission-critical workloads.
In addition, Linuxs growth owes a lot to the accelerated pace by which companies are migrating to the cloud. Long a buzzword, the cloud is getting real, right now. While there is still work to do for Linux and the cloud, there is no denying its dominant role in todays biggest cloud companies: Amazon and Google to name just two.
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