Linux and Virtualization Will March Forward Together

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 15, 2009

As we posted yesterday, next week's LinuxCon conference in Portland looks like one of the better open source events of the year to check in on, and you can do so remotely, from your computer. The Linux Foundation is putting the event on, and the foundation's Amanda McPherson has a preview interview up with one of the speakers, Bob Sutor from IBM, here. Sutor is the VP of Open Source and Linux at IBM, and makes some interesting points about how virtualization is the biggest opportunity for Linux of all. Is it?

In response to a question about opportunities for Linux, Sutor said:

"I think Linux is such a natural for virtualization, both as a host and as a guest, and this will drive Linux even deeper into datacenters. Why? Linux and virtualization increase efficiency, allow consolidation, help reduce power and heat generated, and reduce server footprint. When you combine this with the quality of service offered by mainframes, you get even more benefits. When you open all this up to new ways of scheduling and managing applications, clouds emerge. So I think virtualization is key to what will foster greater use of Linux in the next decade."

This, of course, goes beyond the desktop, and it's worth noting that even big Linux players like Red Hat have come out and said they're not really focused on the desktop. (Red Hat is focused on virtualization, though.) Some people's eyes roll over whenever you mention the topics of cloud computing and virtualization, and some people even feel that cloud computing and virtualization could kill open source. But the fact is that these are huge trends, big cost savers for companies of all sizes, and these trends are growing. I have to agree with Sutor that Linux will grow with the virtualization trend, as will open source offerings of many other stripes.

It's also worth noting that if you don't think of IBM as a company focused on Linux, think again. Sutor specifically mentions mainframes in his quote, which IBM has never given up on in the age of the PC, and the company's Linux and virtualization strategies are very tied to that high-margin portion of its business. IBM is also one of the biggest contributors to the Linux kernel, as seen in the chart in this post.

Matt Asay also has an interesting post up on how virtualization is tipping the Total Cost of Ownership scales for Linux. He cites a study from Gabriel Consulting Group (PDF) that shows that enterprises that predominantly use Linux virtualize roughly 30 percent more than those that prefer Windows, reaping cost savings by spending less money on hardware and licensing fees.

This trend is not just here to stay--it's growing quickly. Virtual environments can mean fewer servers, lower fees for software licenses, reduced need for space for servers, less money spent on power and cooling, and more. If you turned the clock back to the 1990s, who would have thought this would become such a huge part of Linux's future?