Gartner Warns Linux Can Cost More To Integrate

The Gartner Group has released a report on Linux that will be of special interest to commercial Java, .NET and legacy systems developers. Gartner found that while Linux may save some money in the purchase of stand-alone hardware/software, integrating Linux systems with installed applications may be more expensive than with Unix or Windows because of a lack of support, integration tools and knowledgeable service providers. See how Gartner suggests you deal with the issue.

Tags: Linux, Integration, Open Source, Costs, Developers, Vendors, Solution Providers,

The Gartner Group has released report on Linux in the enterprise that will be of special interested to commercial developers with Java, .NET and legacy systems responsibilities.

Gartner predicts that while Linux may represent core savings in the purchase of stand-alone hardware/software, those savings could be quickly eroded if the goal is to integrate Linux systems with those software applications already deployed in the enterprise. The reason, Gartner found, is a lack of support and integration tools and service providers.

"The growing acceptance of Linux has forced many organizations to view Linux as less of a tactical solution and more of an integrated part of the organization's overall IT strategy," said analyst Mary Hubley, in Gartner's October Technology Overview entitled Linux: What Major IT Vendors Are Doing.

But, she warns, those savings may not end up in the end-user's pocket. "Certainly," Hubley added, "mainstream vendors are not about to pass up the extra revenue that can be achieved from selling systems and services that will allow their customers to integrate their Linux systems with their proprietary products."

As a result of the temptation for vendors to chase this "extra revenue," Hubley offered the following observation: "While proponents cite costs savings as an advantage, these are not always clear-cut, as there can be hidden costs such as the skill levels of current IT staff, and the extra migration and integration costs. Cost savings will be determined in large part by support relationships that end users develop with their vendors.

Where Developers, SysAdmins Should Be On Guard
The report offers other areas where developers and sysadmins should be on-guard:

  • Less standard Linux? -- "It is only natural that the major vendors, in their zeal to get Linux into the enterprise, will eventual exert some control over Linux development. While Linux will still remain Open Source, when it comes to enterprise systems, operating system updates will most likely come from established hardware providers with documented support and managed update schedules."

  • More Exposure to "Gotcha" Costs? -- "No matter how inexpensive Linux is to deploy, if the application that an organization needs does not exist, the organization must build it in-house or hire a solution provider that is willing to work with the Open Source community. "

  • Not Enough Tech Support Out There? -- "While Linux offers many opportunities for solution providers, there is still some confusion and hesitancy about getting involved in nontraditional licensing models." Hubley notes three (3) specific areas:

    1. 1. Many solution providers find the constantly evolving process of the posting of the Linux libraries, patches and updates to the Internet unmanageable.
    2. Many find it disturbing that no single entity actually owns the various Linux technologies. This is because Linux is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), which, while it places no explicit restrictions on selling or redistributing Linux software, does stipulate that any modifications made to the source be returned to the Open Source community in the form of full-source code.
    3. Many attribute the slow growth of Open Source products to the fact that programmers are restricted from using some key technologies that involve expensive licenses. Some have even found that the GPL can be as restrictive as closed software models.

    Translation: Absent a robust Linux integration tools and support infrastructure -- of technologies, people and standards that take Linux integration up-the-stack, the costs and deployment times for new Linux-based integration projects will remain unpredictable. The best protection is a strong vendor relationship in which the customer can exert leverage if costs and timetables start spiraling out of control.

    IDN would like to hear from integration-focused developers and sysadmins on this topic. If you have tips, tricks, tools or insights on how to better integrate Open Source and commercial software packages, we want to hear from you. Write us at,