As IT continues to evolve, we’re starting to see the dominance of two emerging trends in the form of mobile and cloud computing. While both of these trends are closely related, they share at least one attribute in common that is not so obvious: Increasingly both trends are starting to be shaped to one degree or another by Linux.
In the case of mobile computing, the Google Android operating system is having a major impact, especially when it comes to smartphones. On the other end of the spectrum, the vast majority of cloud computing services that have been made available thus far are based on Linux. This has led some to speculate that not only has Linux won, but we may soon see a significant shortage in the availability of trained Linux administrators.
But perhaps more intriguing is the fact that it’s starting to look a lot like Windows is about to be surrounded and ultimately contained. As more people rely on mobile computing devices, the battle is shaping up to be one between a variant of Linux and the proprietary offering from Apple. And try as Microsoft might, the public cloud computing services are increasing their dependence on Linux operating systems that don’t require them to pay licensing fees to Microsoft.
What is still unknown is how far these trends might carry over when it comes to private cloud computing platforms inside the enterprise, and whether a proliferation of mobile computing devices running Linux might ultimately lead to more Linux on the desktop.
The folks at Canonical, the providers of the increasingly popular version of the Ubuntu variant of Linux, think it’s only a matter of time at this point. The company most recently released version 11.04 of the Ubuntu desktop. This release makes it simpler for mobile computing users to synchronize files via the Ubuntu One cloud service, while at the same time the user interface has been improved to configure and launch applications. According to Steve George, Canonical vice president of business development, all of these efforts are designed to enhance the overall appeal of Linux to the larger end-user community, which with each passing day is getting more exposure to Linux.
It may take a while for all of this to play out, but it’s pretty clear that Linux is gaining momentum. Some might argue that while the sheer volume of Linux in the market is increasing, the fact that it’s fractured across so many variants limits the impact of those gains. Nevertheless, it’s pretty clear that Linux at this point has gone mainstream. The only question at this point is to what degree will that trend continue?