The Future of Unix - Page 2

Dan Olds

A large majority of our survey respondents report that Unix virtualization has reduced their costs. No surprise there-they've reduced their hardware needs and increased efficiency.  We believe that the fact that Unix vendors provided virtualization before it become prevalent in x86 is one of the reasons that the Unix market is still hale and healthy. If Unix systems were still mired in the "single application per server" usage model, we doubt the market would be as large as it is today.

Every data center-whether Unix- or x86-centric-is acutely aware of facility constraints. Fully two-thirds of our respondents said that facilities concerns (power, cooling, and floor space) played a significant role in their current server purchasing criteria.

These issues are growing in importance moving forward. As can be seen from the accompanying chart, more than 75 percent of our survey respondents said that "Power, cooling, and floor space requirements will be much more important to us in the future."

So what does this mean to the Unix market? Intel and the major x86 server OEMs have been touting their platform in terms of energy efficiency and density for a few years now. Unix system vendors have, of course, also been responding to the same trends and implementing more energy- and space-efficient designs.

With this in mind, we're interested in getting the data center view on how these how these two architectures stack up in terms of facilities.

Nearly two-thirds of our respondents believe that Unix systems are more energy-efficient than x86.  So, at least according to those working in Unix data centers, the Unix platform actually outperforms x86 when it comes to facilities requirements.

We tend to think that this might have something to do with the fact that customers are packing multiple important workloads onto their Unix boxes, and that virtualized Unix has been around longer than virtualized x86. Customers routinely combine multiple Unix applications onto virtual machines running in partitions, which pushes up overall system utilization rates. This fact, we believe, is probably why customers see their Unix boxes as more "facility manager friendly" when compared to the sprawl of blades, towers, and x86-flavored pizza box servers crammed into every nook and cranny of many data centers.

Overall, we see the Unix market as healthy, although it certainly isn't growing as quickly as the x86 server segment. Vendor consolidation has been a good thing. The three surviving major vendors, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sun Microsystems, have solid products that offer good performance, scalability, and availability. Each of their operating systems enjoys wide and deep ISV support, with applications ported and optimized for each platform. More importantly, each vendor is still aggressively competing against the others for data center market share. They're pushing ahead on various fronts in an attempt to differentiate their offerings.

Right now, the Unix market is a bit of a two-horse race between IBM and HP. In recent years, Sun seemed to take its eyes off the ball as it pursued emerging market and software gambits. We think that Oracle's ownership of Sun (yes, the deal will go through-bet on it) will prove to be disruptive, and will fuel even greater levels of innovation and cutthroat competition. The beneficiaries will be Unix system customers, who will get more for their money, and folks like us who enjoy watching a good dogfight between system vendors.

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Dec 25, 2009 6:12 PM John McLaughlin John McLaughlin  says:
I agree with your analysis and would point out that Linux and MacOS are forms of UNIX too! Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, MacOS are certified to use the UNIX brand. There are fees and test suites to get a version of UNIX branded by the Open Group as UNIX which notes about Linux on its web site, "Recent versions of Glibc include much functionality from the Single UNIX Specification, Version 2 (for UNIX 98) and later." The Linux Standard Base effort is based on the POSIX specification, the Single UNIX Specification, and several other open standards, but extends them in certain areas. Linux in the server market is synonymous with "commodity" x86 computing. The HPC market is now dominated by that combination. I believe that two other markets will convert to UNIX/commodity: Networked Storage and Clustered Databases Expect to see appliances where the low cost of UNIX and commodity hardware are keys to the low cost of the overall solution (DB appliance or Storage appliance). We can see hints of that future in the Sun 7000 open storage platform (OpenSolaris and x86 servers with cool flash technology) and with the Sun/Oracle database machine (Linux, Oracle RAC, flash, infinband, storage in the cluster). Reply
Dec 29, 2009 1:12 PM Bob Diebel Bob Diebel  says:
"Systems based on x86 processors running Windows and Linux have surpassed the (generally) RISC-based servers running Unix" "If Unix systems are so strategic, why has there been significant Unix to Windows/Linux migration over the past few years?" I do not know what surpises me more... Your combining Windows&Linux, or separating Linux&UNIX I think either is a bit of a stretch. UNIX will never die as long as Linux is around. Windows, that's a totally different beast... lets not talk about it. Reply
Jul 13, 2011 8:07 AM LangleyJeri LangleyJeri  says:
If you are in the corner and have got no cash to go out from that point, you would need to take the mortgage loans. Just because it would help you for sure. I get consolidation loans every year and feel OK just because of this. Reply

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