While lemmings see Unix as a disappearing technology, the reality is very different.
Technologists have a reputation for constantly seeking the next big thing. So it is interesting to see that in a recent poll by Silicon.com - the EMEA news website for CIOs - over a third of readers admitted to having kit that was more than 10 years old.
Andrew Fletcher, business unit manager: business critical servers, Enterprise Servers & Storage Group, HP
In the world of technology, as anywhere else, just because something has been around a while does not mean that it should be consigned to the rubbish heap. Take the Unix server market. At first sight recent market analysis suggests that Unix has had its day. Sales have been relatively flat and Unix appears to be losing out to Windows and Linux.
A closer look at the figures tells a slightly different story. According to IDC, the Unix server market saw unexpected revenue growth over 12 months to the third quarter of 2006. This was the first time for over two years that there has been an increase in sales of the Unix operating system.
IDC also reports a healthy growth for Unix servers for mission-critical applications in areas such as business processing and decision support. The fact that the Unix server market is being attacked vigorously by all major players is perhaps also testament to its underlying strengths.
Flexibility, high availability, manageability, scalability and security are the core elements that will continue to drive the market especially for high-end users like insurance companies, finance institutions and government departments. Certainly, as business continuity leaps up the corporate agenda for such users, dealing with the prospect of downtime is no longer just a case having a plan in place to keep the business running. To make a difference in an increasingly competitive world, enterprises require a data warehousing and business intelligence infrastructure that delivers availability, flexibility and performance.
CIOs need to take security threats seriously, comply with regulations and audits and deal with increasing identity management/remote device connectivity issues. It is against this backdrop that the Unix server market is able to really play a significant role in the future of business technology.
What we are seeing is providers offering solutions that are simple and at the same time have highly-integrated security and virtualisation features. Integrated security means having built-in protection and an integrated approach to maintaining business continuity by protecting data, applications, operating systems and networks. For instance, rather than having to access each machine individually it should be possible to update security policies by managing servers on a one-to-many basis adding policies and rules that define user privileges and manage access rights.
Servers should be designed for maximum protection against both internal and external threats with a number of well-integrated security features. These features must offer solid security protection, lower the total cost of ownership and reduce time to implementation. The basic goal is to preserve the integrity of the system in the face of attack and servers should include features that help the administrator lock down the platform.
As security threats become more complex, the suite of security technologies required to dramatically reduce the likelihood of system compromise also gets more sophisticated. Security features incorporated into the Unix operating environment help businesses isolate compromised applications without requiring modification to applications. HP for example offers with HP-UX 11i Security Containment a highly secure operating environment.
HP-UX 11i v3 is designed to deliver mission-critical virtualisation and in-depth security with mainframe-class availability. The robust operating environment provides stability and safety to ensure your enterprise applications are always available. This results in better outcomes for your business as well as accelerated growth and lower costs for today's and tomorrow's most demanding applications.
But, while Unix remains the OS of choice for secure, available, mission critical computing environments, few customers rely on Unix alone to fulfil all of their IT requirements. The ability to grow and shrink a range of diverse OS environments to respond quickly to changing business needs will become mandatory. HP has focused on alleviating the multi-OS cohabitation tax with a multi-OS server range: integrity, and heterogeneous management tools across HP-UX, Linux, OpenVMS and Windows.
In short, it is not about choosing the right Unix server, rather choosing the right operating environment for your business needs. In a world where a company's data is its business and reducing downtime is the difference between competitive advantage and corporate failure, CIOs are increasingly choosing Unix to benefit from a comprehensive array of rigorously-designed and tested security features. Coupled with the scalability and flexibility to adapt, such sophisticated security allows IT resources to respond to changing business needs.
For some, the future of Unix may be in the balance but for the enterprise market it could not be clearer.