A Good Foundation to Build On

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I have a problem. The Linux Foundation keeps sending me stuff, and I keep writing nice things about them. And here they are, at it again, with not just one good idea, but two.

First, we have this Linux Foundation-sponsored white paper from IDC, entitled “The Role of Linux Servers and Commercial Workloads”. In it you will find that:

Increasingly, deployments of the Linux server operating system are expanding from infrastructure-oriented workloads to more commercially-oriented workloads such as database, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and other general business processing, workloads that historically have been the domain of Microsoft Windows and Unix. Where once Linux was seen by customers primarily as a low-cost infrastructure solution, it is now increasingly viewed as a solution for wider and more critical business deployments.

No surprise there for readers of this blog. IDC does, however, flesh this out with some numbers:

Total Linux ecosystem spending — including customer acquisitions of hardware,software, and related services — totaled $21 billion in 2007 and will grow to $49 billion in 2011, thanks to continued growth of the installed base of Linux server operating systems into enterprise deployments.

The importance of this report is not so much what it says – since most of its predictions are necessarily plucked out of the air – but that it exists. As you may recall, in the past IDC has been best-known – and much-reviled - for its Microsoft-sponsored reports that strangely find that Microsoft systems are better than GNU/Linux. Now we have the same company saying GNU/Linux is pretty wonderful, too.

What does that prove? Certainly nothing about Windows or GNU/Linux, and not much about IDC other than the fact that anybody can sponsor its research. But it does show, once again, that the Linux Foundation is getting pro-active, and fighting fire with fire. The IDC report in itself may be of limited value, but it's the kind of propaganda that needs to be put out in the market if only to nullify the propaganda from the other side.

And on a similar note, here we have another shrewd move: videos from this year's Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit on YouTube. Why is this such a good idea? Well, in case you hadn't noticed, only boring old people watch TV these days: all those young things watch YouTube. Putting up this stuff there is equivalent to putting ads on TV in the old days. Except that you're not forcing it upon the audience, they find it - or, rather, the search engines find it. Which means that anyone interested in seeing what personalities like Jeremy Allison, Marten Mickos and Dan Frye, amongst others, look and sound like, can now do so from the comfort of their own GNU/Linux computer.

It may be a pretty obvious idea, but the sad fact is that it hasn't really been done before, which is a pretty damning reflection on the extent of the open source world's PR savvy. So, once again, I find myself commending the Linux Foundation for taking these steps. But I have a request: as well as extending these great ideas with similar initiatives in the future, please do something really stupid so that I can write a nice negative post about you for a change....