And the winner is … Unix

Server vendors and IS shops need to cut through the hype surrounding Windows NT and realise it will take at least five years for the operating system to be fully competitive with Unix, says a leading researcher. Though already making a significant impact on file server, print server and basic Internet applications, Windows NT will not be all things to all people, says IDC's Susan Frankle.

Server vendors and IS shops need to cut through the hype surrounding Windows NT and realise it will take at least five years for the operating system to be fully competitive with Unix, says International Data (IDC) market researcher Susan Frankle.

Though already making a significant impact on file server, print server and basic Internet applications, Windows NT will not be all things to all people, says Frankle.

“What will be the dominant server environment in the year 2000?” Frankle rhetorically asked the audience at an IDC’s Directions briefing session. “The answer is, there will be no dominant operating environment.”

Nevertheless, she says, Unix is the largest operating environment and still will be in the year 2000.

IDC expects Unix to hold its ground in part because of the tremendous expense required to switch server environments and retrain staff to support the environment. In addition, Unix vendors continue to invest in the platform. In short, users are still getting some milage out of their current environments, so there isn’t a compelling reason to switch,” Frankle says.

Several myths surround the fast-growing operating system, Frankle says. These include the perception that NT will compete aggressively for all server workloads; that NT Server is the current platform of choice for Internet applications; and that most applications are fully optimised

for NT.

“We’re not seeing NT in strategic Internet applications. Unix will be the environment within transaction-oriented applications on the Web.”

While software vendors have been porting products to NT, many applications have yet to be fully optimised for the operating environment, she says. Oracle in particular is not really going after big business with NT, she says.

Windows NT remains immature and not up to all the challenges it faces, Frankle says. “It takes 10 years to make a fully functional operating environment. NT is only five years in the making.”

NT is likely to develop at an accelerated pace but will need several more years before it has the scalability and management functions already available in Unix.

In addition, the Windows software lacks wide acceptance away from the Intel platform, and Microsoft lacks value-added service and support for installations on an enterprise scale.

“Microsoft is very good at providing productivity applications support,” Frankle says. “But it does not really know how to support enterprise-wide networks and the applications that run on them.”

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