Linux in the Enterprise – ZDNet

ZDNet asks if Is Linux is taking over the enterprise:

Linux is enjoying two major advantages in the current market. For existing users of Unix systems, it offers a way forward that promises to slash hardware costs by reducing dependence on proprietary architectures. Why pay up big bucks for a dedicated Sun or Alpha box when the same task can be accomplished with cheap Taiwanese components?

“We found ourselves replacing boxes costing $60,000 with new ones priced at about $10,000, saving $50,000 per server,” Joe Barker, senior systems engineer at Amazon.com, noted in a white paper last year. “When calculating the economics, most people focus on free licenses, saving about $500 per box. This is trivial compared to the savings from Linux versus Unix servers.”

That point hasn’t been lost on the major Unix players. “The attraction of Linux is the commodity hardware that it runs on,” says Duncan Bennet, director of Linux products for Sun Microsystems, which itself recently began selling low-end Intel-based servers that can run either Linux or Solaris, Sun’s own Unix variant.

In the Windows server market, the hardware argument is obviously less relevant. Until recently Linux’s main advantage has been the widespread belief that it provides a more stable operating environment. “Linux is rating pretty well,” says Lawrence. “It’s stable, it’s reliable, and security is a good story.”

This year, however, it has also benefited from Microsoft’s unpopular switch to an ongoing licensing model for its enterprise products. Quantifying this difference is challenging, but for companies seeking to cut costs, Linux has developed much greater appeal as a result of a decision by its major market rival.

A nice, long story, but it also ignores the “next users” – the 500 million consumers and many million SMEs in emerging markets who are not yet using a computer. They are the right market for Linux.

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Zoe as Email Google

Writes Jon Udell:

Any data that’s public, and that Google can see, is hardly worth storing and organizing. We simply search for what we need, when we need it: just-in-time information management. But since we don’t admit Google to our private data stores — Intranets and mailboxes, for example — we’re still like the shoemaker’s barefoot children. Most of us can find all sorts of obscure things more easily than we can find the file that Tom sent Leslie last week.

What would it be like to Google your email? Raphal Szwarc’s ZO is a clever piece of software that explores this idea. It’s written in Java (source available), so it can be debugged and run everywhere. ZO is implemented as a collection of services. Startup is as simple as unpacking the zipped tarball and launching ZO.jar. The services that fire up include a local Web server that handles the browser-based UI, a text indexing engine, a POP client and server, and an SMTP server.

We need to look at Zoe in detail and see how it fits in both with MailServ and the Thin Client-Thick Server platform.

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One-Stop Portal

Writes Line56:

The real idea of corporate portals is that they should provide a one-stop consolidated view driven by a combination of existing enterprise information assets and IT infrastructure investments. The value of Web portal technology has moved beyond merely facilitating information to delivering services that connect people to content via integrated applications. For example, one click of a mouse can now set off a whole series of activities, from authentication to credit checking to order processing to shipment. This enables customers, business partners and employees to see what is happening with business transactions in real time.

As Web portals rapidly evolve into a single point of access for e-commerce, collaboration and a host of other business services, they are dependent on a number of factors, including:

  • Personalized delivery of content/applications: Giving people access to information and applications specific to their functions.

  • Real-time collaboration services: Including instant messaging, discussion areas, group calendars, task tracking and shared document libraries.

  • Integrated applications: Bringing together enterprise applications, syndicated content, websites, e-mail, workflow integration, etc.

  • Our Digital Dashboard project is working to do exactly this.

    TECH TALK: Technology’s Next Markets: The Invisible Market

    The worlds emerging markets are home to over 4 billion people. I strongly believe that the only way for these markets to transform from emerging to developing is via appropriate use of technology, especially information and communication technology. Yes, they need water, electricity and food. These are the basic requirements for them to survive. But what will make them thrive and give hope for the next generation is the intelligent use of computers, communications and information. Technology is what can transform the lives of consumers and enrich the prospects of enterprises in the worlds emerging markets.

    These markets can also be technologys saviour and salvation. Even as technology overshoots what is needed in the worlds developed markets, there is an opportunity to create solutions much of it based on what already exists for the mass market of consumers and enterprises. The key lies in the pricing.

    The cost of technology has to match the purchasing power, which implies a reduction in cost by 90% or more. Dollar-denominated solutions will go nowhere. And this is the reason why this market is largely invisible to the existing technology leaders. Their current customers are willing to pay their asking price. The same products are sold in the emerging markets with an approach of, If you have the money, buy our products. Else, dont waste our time. You are anyways too insignificant to our topline and bottomline.

    This is a point made eloquently by CK Prahalad and Stuart Hart in their article in Strategy+Business entitled The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid:

    Doing business with the worlds 4 billion poorest people two-thirds of the worlds population will require radical innovations in technology and business models. It will require MNCs to reevaluate priceperformance relationships for products and services. It will demand a new level of capital efficiency and new ways of measuring financial success. Companies will be forced to transform their understanding of scale, from a bigger is better ideal to an ideal of highly distributed small-scale operations married to world-scale capabilities.

    In short, the poorest populations raise a prodigious new managerial challenge for the worlds wealthiest companies: selling to the poor and helping them improve their lives by producing and distributing products and services in culturally sensitive, environmentally sustainable, and economically profitable ways.

    Why? Because the annual per capita income based on purchasing power parity in U.S. dollars [of the 4 billion people at the bottom of the pyramid] is less than $1,500, the minimum considered necessary to sustain a decent life. For well over a billion people roughly one-sixth of humanity per capita income is less than $1 per day.

    Can you imagine consumers and enterprises in these markets spending hundreds of US dollars on state-of-the-art Wintel-powered computers? That is precisely what is being sold to them. That is also why the 4 billion market remains invisible and unviable to marketers.

    The one point that I differ on with Prahalad and Hart is the need for radical innovations in technology. I will argue in the coming columns that all the building components to target the worlds emerging markets already exist. In fact, if one has to sell cost-effectively to these markets, the R&D cost has become zero. What is needed is a radical innovation in the business model.

    Tomorrow: PCs Next Markets

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