In the next few years, the Linux open-source operating system is expected to take a significant bite out of the Unix market in one of Unix's last bastions of dominance: large implementations of Oracle, PeopleSoft, and SAP enterprise-resource-planning software. Linux's growth also will affect ERP deployments on Windows, although Windows' market share is more likely to flatten than decrease.
A September software study conducted by Peerstone Research indicates that, as of mid-2004, 65% of more than 250 ERP server users surveyed running Oracle, PeopleSoft, and SAP ERP software are doing so on RISC-based servers and the Unix operating system. Another 28% run on x86-based servers and Windows, while only 2% run on Linux.
This dynamic will change dramatically over the next three years as Linux continues to improve as a credible alternative to both Unix and Windows as an ERP platform.
By 2007, the share of the three most popular ERP applications on Unix will shrink to half, while Windows' share will remain relatively steady. Linux, while remaining in third place, will take 15% of ERP server operating systems, Peerstone predicts. The open-source operating system's success as a platform for major ERP applications will come at the expense Unix's dominant market share as well as any hope Microsoft has that Windows would grow in this market.
"Until now, companies have only been able to go to Windows to be able to leverage cheaper Intel hardware," Peerstone founder Jeff Gould said during a November press conference. "The emergence of Linux as an enterprise operating system means Windows has already reached its high-water mark in the ERP environment."
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How is Unix ERP migration expected to change over the next three years?
Customers have been leaving Unix for cheaper platforms for years. Instead of moving to Windows, many defectors are considering Linux. About one in five ERP users running Unix expects to migrate off the operating system in the next three years, and almost four in five of those prospective movers say they'll go to Linux, according to Peerstone's research.