Lai said that for large symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) servers, Unix has several functionality advantages over the Linux platform particularly in the areas of high-availability features, clustering, and journaling-file-system (JFS) recovery.
In the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) marketspace, Lai believed the application service provider (ASP) model and the possible cheaper alternative combination of Linux/Sun’s StarOffice suite have yet to catch on.
"The ASP market is still in its hyped-up stage right now with a lot of vendor 'push'. The real ASP customers are few and far between--usually large organizations with existing service contracts or outsourcing contracts. The SME market--which the Linux/StarOffice is more adapted for--has yet to understand the merits of the ASP model," he said.
Lai said adoption would depend largely on rapidly educating the market about pricing models and total-cost-of-ownership (TCO). Microsoft’s intentions to offer Office using the ASP model may also compete with the Linux/StarOffice value proposal.
"The key success factor for Linux to be adopted on the desktop is if Microsoft ports its Office suite to Linux (which is unlikely.) So Linux has to continue to gather support from the likes of Corel and Lotus to tilt the balance," he said.
In the education market, Lai doesn’t believe Linux near-free software model is enough to ensure adoption. "The Mac OS is strong in the education market because of Apple’s continual focus there. For Linux and its combined solutions to thrive there it needs dedicated professionals and vendors to push it. Pricing alone won't do," he said.
Lai also does not believe the differing flavors of Linux will dent the popularity of the OS. "Different flavors offer end users more choice with regards to vendor support and encourage competition. This is healthy and we can expect better service levels at lower costs to the end users. As long as Linus Torvalds and his team focus on maintaining version control, the industry is better off with different flavors."