Linux

And so...Gartner has finally joined the bandwagon


So today, I read that Gartner has finally jumped on the open source bandwagon. I honestly thought this was a hold over April Fools joke. Seriously. In my time in the open source community (as well as my time when I actually had a physical office at TechRepublic -- the time when Gartner had a majority share of the stocks), I distinctly remember Gartners' take on open source being a slight guffaw at best. It was child's play, a tinkerer's OS that would never make it out of basements, the poor-man's server, and college labs.

Linux and open source continued to gain traction, and yet Gartner continued to shrug it off, saying it would eventually fall out of the spotlight. Well, it never did. And now Gartner has finally said that by 2012 90 percent of all enterprises will use open source. But of course it couldn't do so without a backhand to that compliment by saying that Linux deployments show higher TCO because of the technical skills to operate it. So what they are saying is this: You will all be using open source by 2012, but it's going to cost you more. Why? Because you don't know how to use it.

Is that true? Do you not know how to deploy Linux and/or open source software?

Interesting. It makes me wonder if anyone at Gartner has actually bothered to install one of the modern Linux distributions. I'll give you that three to five years ago a Linux machine wasn't as simple to use as a Windows machine. But now, things are a bit different. With the advancement of the GUI tools in Linux-land, things have evolved to the point where any admin can sit down in front of a Linux machine and figure it out pretty quickly. If not, well, they might want to consider going back to CompSci class again.

But ultimately, I can't figure out what Gartner has against Linux and open source. A part of me, the conspiritologist in me, wants to think that Gartners' pockets are lined in Microsoft gold. I have no proof of that, but it's the only explanation I can come up with.

Granted, I confess to living my computing life near Linux zealotry, so my opinion is a bit skewed. But don't you think Gartner's opinion is equally skewed?

Now I know that I should probably, as most media do, bow down to Gartners' might, but that's not my style. What I want to say is this: Linux is the flagship for open source and without it, there would be no open source. So if Gartner is predicting a 90-percent adoption rate then they should realize that Linux is included in that adoption. At the same time, Gartner should give both Linux and IT professionals a little more credit. First, Linux is not that hard to use. Second, IT pros are a bit smarter than the average bear.

But this just plays to one of my biggest beefs in this industry: people making proclamations and predictions about things that they don't use. That would be like me saying Windows Vista is going to die off in two years because no one likes it. I've never even used Vista - so how could I make that prediction? But I do use Linux and have done so long enough to see the trends.

Linux and open source will continue to grow, and my prediction is this: By the year 2012 people will still be using Linux and Windows (whatever version is available) and OS X, and we will never truly be able to measure what percentages are using what. Market share is nothing more than a buzzword. I could easily claim that Linux has a majority of the market share by simply polling the right people.

Gartner is one of those white elephants that just keeps tromping along making one prediction after another. They are like the focus groups that the nineties dot-com bubble relied on so heavily. And look how those focus groups helped that particular bubble.

What I honestly see is that IT departments are going to use the tools that do the job. If a department is in a budget crunch, and they need a new Web-deploy they might very well reach for Linux. If no one in the department has used Linux, someone will have to step up to the plate and learn it. That's how it works in the real world. You use what you have to use to get the job done. In some cases, it's Linux and open source. In some cases it's Windows.

But ultimately what really matters it that the job is done and done well.

So, if anyone at Gartner is reading this, you might want to realize that the vast majority of IT workers in this country work for small shops where their budgets are tiny and their staff are generally intelligent enough to know that reading a survey or prediction does them no good in the moment.

And in the end, the only real prediction I can make is this:

  • By the year 2012 most IT workers will be overworked and underpaid.
  • By the year 2012 most IT departments will be understaffed.
  • By the year 2012 most IT staffers will have had to learn something they didn't know previously in order to get a job done.
  • By the year 2012 everything will have changed and all of the predictions will mean nothing.
  • By the year 2012 Linux will still be around.
  • And so will Windows.
  • And so will OS X.
  • And in many much forgotten corners of server rooms, so will OS/2.

So there you have it: my take on Gartners' take.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

20 comments
Larry the Security Guy
Larry the Security Guy

Over the last few years Gartner has produced findings that are either glaringly obvious, have the earmarks of bias (sponsored or otherwise) or are completely off in left field. I have a hard time understanding their purpose.

lastchip
lastchip

Seriously though, Gartner are almost unheard of over here and like all crystal ball gazers, one should take them with a very large pinch of salt. Does anyone actually take them seriously? "Gartner is one of those white elephants that just keeps tromping along making one prediction after another." Of course; that's how they make their living, preying on morons that believe everything they say. The only predictions I'd go with, are those made by Jack!

Al Plastow
Al Plastow

The vast majority of business technology consumers are small- to medium-sized businesses. In general, these folks (especially at the small end of the pool) have very little tech sophistication. Essentially, they either buy what their "hired" tech consultants (usually somebody's cousin or brother-in-law) recommend or what the local tech store has on the shelves. Proprietary operating system & software sources spend the big bucks on PR carefully designed to imply that they have the only credible products. Captive? technical people (for the most part) don't have the time, interest, or patience to re-educate ownership or management about the Dark Side? of proprietary SW. Despite all the money being spent to maintain the status quo, an enormous number of us are working quietly behind the scenes to bring sanity back to IT software spending. The era of--I own it all?--is nearly over. Proprietary lock-downs of our tech environments are slowly losing their grip. The era of communities of interest, mutual support and production of products that are open for everyone to use has begun. No-Brainer prediction Gartner. NOT worth the big bucks your members pay for advice. And, yes: I typed this in OpenOffice.

ernestm
ernestm

For companies that try to use reports like Gartner, Forrester, etc. to make buying decisions, it's always been a pain point that they discounted out of hand options that were open source/freeware. In many of these niches there's open source options that are better than some if not all of the vendor supplied products. They didn't totally ignore them. I remember being shocked when I looked at their Web Application Firewall report and say Apache's mod_security in there basically in third place. Remember, every $100k *any* shop doesn't have to shovel over to a vendor means you can employ one more IT person to administer it with part of their time and create more solutions with the rest of their time!

Jaqui
Jaqui

where did you see this Jack? there is nothing on Gartner's site about it.

Jaqui
Jaqui

They grab their archived copy of Red Hat Linux 7 / 8 / 9 and use that for their "assessment". After all, "it's only been out for 10 years, Linux can't have changed that much, windows hasn't." completely ignoring the 6 month release cycle used for most of that 10 years. until Gartner, or any other reporting body, states EXACTLY what distro and version they are basing their assessment on, they can't be believed, no matter what they say. I'll go digging and find a copy of windows 98, and use that as an assessment copy of Microsoft's products, exactly as Gartner is doing with Linux. just means that Microsoft's products will be assessed as being at least 45 years before Microsoft has ANYTHING worth using in the Enterprise.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Maybe they're just conceding that Firefox is here to stay as an alternative to Internet Exploder. I've never been quite sure if the Gartner analysts are in somebody's pocket or if some of their more outlandish predictions are issued to keep them at the top of the Google stats. Apropos of nothing, if the Mayan calendar is correct, the current age will end on December 21, 2012. Maybe that will be the date that open source software is "in use" at %100 of businesses.

CG IT
CG IT

Yes a couple of years ago, Linux was like the old days of DOS when running the computer required a pretty solid knowledge of computers. Windows took most of that out of the equation with Windows 95 and standardization. Linux and and the open source community didn't. For broad adoption, the open source community realized that they had to make Linux an easy to use O/S with an easy to work GUI. If Linux will have a 90% adoption rate for consumers and in business, then it to will become like Windows and be standardized. What businesses and consuers want is a cost effective [TCO], standardized computer operating system that they don't have to spend wads of $$ on for it to operate and do what they want it to do. Will open source advocates really want standardization? or are the advocates still thinking of the good old days when there was the possibility of creating the next word processor program or spread sheet program that the masses will buy thus making them rich?

jlwallen
jlwallen

gartner exists simply to validate the opinions of those in charge who have no idea what they are doing but have budgets to manage and shareholders to please.

Jaqui
Jaqui

succumbed to megalomania. they have lost touch with what they are supposed to be doing, providing ACCURATE, NON BIASED, reporting on the subjects of interest to Business. Instead, they are reporting whatever they get paid to say, regardless of the accuracy or partisanship of the content.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

What gartner needs is new subject for them to sell a report for! SMBs will buy a Linux report!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I noticed that too. "Gartner ... said that by 2012 90% of all enterprises will use open source. But of course it couldn?t do so without a backhand to that compliment by saying that Linux deployments show higher TCO because of the technical skills to operate it. So what they are saying is this: You will all be using open source by 2012, but it?s going to cost you more. Why? Because you don?t know how to use it." Jack, you're using the terms 'Linux' and 'open source' interchangeably in this discussion, and in this paragraph in particular. There are open source apps for all OS, not just Linux, and adoption of open source programs doesn't imply switching operating systems.

Jaqui
Jaqui

I added a comment to that: Gartner proves yet again, they are clueless, or else they use something like Red Hat Linux 5 for their evaluations of Linux. Until there is NAMED a distro, and version, that is CURRENT, who really cares what they say? [ or else, let them base every MS solution report on using windows 95/98 as operating system, since that is the same age as the distro they use ]

jlwallen
jlwallen

gartner seems to now want to applaud open source but slap the Linux operating system around while they are doing it. they forget that without Linux there would never have been open source.

Jaqui
Jaqui

I have had use for the cli xconfigurator recently, with a current distro. I changed monitors and xorg was broken because of refresh rate / depth settings. While they may not be required, having them is handy. :D

jlwallen
jlwallen

it always chaps my khakis when someone claims how user UNfriendly Linux is. Hello, it's 2008 not 1998. Linux doesn't require minicom and xconfigurator any more.

Jaqui
Jaqui

arguing that Linux isn't the major force in open source, just not the origin of it. and even the FSF post dates the origin of open source. " A quick history of Open Source... A little history - the first virtual community The concept of open source is as old as the concept of communities, where enthusiastic artisans have always passed on their lore to new generations in an effort to create a positive legacy for themselves. The scientific community has always been "open source" - the tradition of sharing discoveries, including methods of testing those discoveries, is the basis for scientific endeavour. Scientists, rather than each reinventing the wheel, verify the validity of one another's work and then add their own refinements and enhancements, or even quantum leaps, with the benefit of insight gained from studying "prior art." This idea of building on the accepted foundations of knowledge, the basis of scientific culture, naturally passed into the ethos of the computing world with the advent of the first computer networks in the 60's and 70's where the first young software "hackers" - a self-deprecating reference to "hack writers" designed to downplay the cleverness of their early software endeavours - reached out of their lonely, usually secluded and windowless labs at universities and government laboratories sprinkled around the world to fashion the first virtual communities. These hackers, having themselves designed and "hacked" together the original infrastructure of what has now evolved into the Internet, were very aware of the implications of their new virtual world. They recognised that they could never fully harness the vast and quickly evolving power of these computers if they worked in isolation. Working together, in addition to being immensely more productive, was much more fun. They created a virtual society in which the term "hacker" became a term of respect rather than an insult, and value was exchanged not with money (which would have been seen as too cumbersome - this was a few years before credit cards, online transactions, and PayPal...), but rather through software capabilities in the form of source code. Business starts to awaken It was only later, in the 70's, with the advent of cheaper computers that businesses could afford - previously computing was only feasible for government organisations and universities - that the proprietary world of computing emerged. Mechanical calculator and till manufacturer, International Business Machines, along with only a few of their contemporaries, recognised the shifting paradigm and began reinventing their business around digital computing machines. Their biggest problem was not building the hardware - it was convincing businesses that their hardware was worth buying. To do that, it needed to solve business' problems - and those solutions were built with software. So companies like IBM, Hewlet Packard, Atlantic Telegraph & Telephone (now AT&T), Texas Instruments, and the Digital Equipment Corp courted the early hackers, pulling them out of their hacker community and into highly paid but clausterphobic work environments where they were treated as golden geese, or essentially valuable freaks. The early hacker ethos suffered a major setback, but save for a few astute individuals like Richard Stallman at MIT, few realised the implications of this change to proprietary computing before it was too late. Software development went from being a mystical art - practiced by a tightly knit geographically diverse group of artisans who had forged their own ethos and a self selected open society - to a fragmented, "clean room" world of intrigue and mistrust, where the "all's fair in love and business" mentality made hackers suspicious of their former friends due to their new corporate stock options, fat salary packages, and unclear loyalties. Source code that used to wing its way blissfully across phone lines all over the world was now battened down in safes, and hoarded as the "crown jewels" of some of the world's richest corporations - the world of computing had closed the source - and the hacker community was largely destroyed. Rebirth of the Hacker The hacker ethos, sick of being trapped behind intellectual property protections and non-disclosure agreements on one hand, and the prohibitive cost of networked computing for private individuals on the other only re-asserted itself with the advent of the personal computer and the fledgeling Internet. The Internet was a framework built by socially aware visionaries, on behalf of a paranoid government wanting a robust, distributed network for communications between military positions in the event of a global nuclear holocaust. What they got, however was something altogether greater than that. They got a virtual world in which the cost of replicating information was negligible; a world where any device that spoke the standard dialect of TCP/IP could take and place calls to anywhere the network went. Almost by accident, the software developers, largely university students and researchers, found their equivalent to scientific conferences, where new ideas could be presented and discussed. In the case of software, however, one did not need to stand at a podium to exchange ideas. No, it was done by exchanging source code. Rattling the Cage To the disbelief (and subsequently horror) of the entrenched corporate software giants, whose huge and ever increasing stock values built on closed standards and vendor lock-in made them the darlings of Wall Street, ordinary, everyday people, who also happened to be very bright, started building very good software and distributing it freely via the Internet. What happened was a bunch of regular people were writing software within businesses or institutions that weren't in the business of selling software. These developers realised that if they wrote software and let others see it they could exchange ideas and get assistance with software related problems all the while achieving mutual benefits by borrowing from each others' expertise and source code. This helped them tune the performance and capabilities of internal systems which in turn made their companies core business more profitable. This exchange between software developers took place through public access electronic bulletin boards, email lists, and Usenet "news groups." Using these newly emerging communications channels was seemless (they could interact with their peers online while they were writing code), and it was cheap. Some particularly useful software projects started to take on lives of their own: Eric Allman's Sendmail mail transfer agent (MTA) developed at the Berkeley campus of the University of California, Paul Vixie's Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND), and Rob McCool's HTTPd, the original web server, from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. All of these people would have also been familiar with free development tools Richard Stallman's legendary Emacs programmer's editor and GCC compiler, used by many programmers as fundamental parts of their development infrastructure... because they were free, and also happened to be extremely good. These and other similar software projects produced what are now the engines powering the Internet. Individuals like Tim Berners-Lee wrote papers describing, in full detail, the mechanics behind his "World Wide Web" idea, thereby creating an open standard similar to the mulitudes of IEEE standards used throughout the business and engineering worlds. Tim was also one of the founding members of the World Wide Web Consortium whose purpose was to keep the standards govering the Internet vendor neutral - to keep commercial interests from hijacking the standards development process, where the only considerations should be technical rather than commercial. If it wasn't for the steadfast refusal of Berners-Lee and other champions of open standards to cave in to commercial domination of the standards process - creating closed standards controlled by only one company - the Internet would never have been achievable. The Turning Tide But the Internet does exist, and it has proven its robustness. Despite all efforts of the worlds largest companies to stifle its openness, the communities surrounding free software have not only survived, they have flourished. Although some of the high profile companies who have tried to build businesses around open source software in an attempt to vy with the big closed source corporates have failed spectacularly, many of the smaller, faster, more agile ones have thrived quietly, as mammals did among the dinosaurs just before their extinction... For evidence of this, one need only survey the activity on one of the open source world's greatest assets, SourceForge created by VA Linux Systems before they, too, succumbed to the blight of the open-source-company-emulating-a-corporate, rebranding as the more ideologically ambiguous VA Software. Luckily, SourceForge has survived the throes of business. The sheer number of projects, managed voluntarily by software developers at non-software focused companies and institutions, or in the smaller more agile open source focused companies mentioned previously, and the rate at which that number is growing, is a testament to the turning tide and the growing momentum behind the global open source movement. " http://www.openz.org/oshistory.php

jlwallen
jlwallen

fine. i'll concede that Stallman started GNU and open source. but i firmly believe that open source probably would never have made it were it not for Linux. without Linux open source would have suffered the fate that Gartner seems to have always wanted to prescribe.

Jaqui
Jaqui

open source was around before Linus started the Linux project. open source wouldn't be as rich and varied as it is without Linux, but it would still be here.

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