Linux continues steady server growth

Gartner's worldwide server revenue numbers hold great promise for Linux, and not such good news for Unix.

Enterprises trust Linux's maturity and don't put much stock in legal threats from potential issues with patents or the SCO Group.

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That's what's between the lines of Gartner Inc.'s worldwide server revenue numbers released this week. The report illustrates Linux's steady growth as a mainstream server OS as companies are letting their wallets do the loudest talking.

Servers costing less than $5,000 [x86] had the biggest growth -- and on most of those we're seeing Linux installed doing Web serving, file and print serving and applications," said principal analyst Michael McLaughlin. "It's the same stuff we've seen for a few quarters now, just with a lot more people taking advantage of it."

Gartner said Linux revenue grew 54.6 % in the second quarter and unit shipments jumped more than 61% giving the OS 9.5% of the overall market share.

While Microsoft and the Windows OS remain Linux's primary rival, Linux's success is coming at the expense of Unix. Gartner said Unix revenue dipped 4.3% and it lost more than four points of market share. Windows accounted for 34.4% of worldwide OS revenue, Gartner said.

Linux, meanwhile, is moving deeper into enterprise infrastructure. No longer is it simply an edge-of-network play, it has a strong presence in high performance clusters, blade servers and a growing presence hosting Web applications, storage management and network connectivity applications.

It's the same stuff we've seen for a few quarters now, just with a lot more people taking advantage of it.
Michael McLaughlin
Principal analystGartner Inc.

It's definitely moving into more backend stuff in the enterprise," McLaughlin said. "People are seeing a lot of uses for Linux."

Recent threats from issues with patents and the hovering specter of the SCO Group doesn't seem to impact many spending decisions, McLaughlin added.

Companies are not viewing it as enough of an issue," he said.

As for server vendors, HP remains the leader among Linux servers in terms of revenue. IBM, Dell and Sun are also among the leaders.

Overall, worldwide server revenue topped $11.5 billion, a 7.7% jump. IBM remained the leader with 30.7% market share, with Dell enjoying the biggest revenue jump (20.1%) year-over-year.

HP holds 27.3% of the overall market share, Sun 13% and Dell 9%.

Server shipments, meanwhile, jumped 24.5% with 1.6 million units shipped. HP lead all vendors with 463,489 units shipped. Dell, meanwhile, is next with 337,994 shipments, followed by IBM with 238,721.

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