If you’re going to have a conversation about technology in the enterprise these days, invariably the talk will turn to one of two things: cloud computing and bring your own device (BYOD) policies. Unless you specifically ask, you’re not going to hear very much about Linux in the blogosphere these days.
But that doesn’t mean that Linux isn’t part of the conversation.
Without digging too far, you’ll find Linux in cloud computing. Whether on public, private or hybrid cloud, the de facto choice of operating system for those instances will almost assuredly be some distro of Linux. It may that the ubiquitous nature of Linux in the cloud is actually working against it’s notoriety. It used to be that using Linux would be considered heresy in some circles. Now, it’s the obvious choice, the no brainer. Use something else in the cloud, actually, and people will look at you funny.
When talking about BYOD, it would seem to be a gimme to make the connection with Linux through the Android mobile operating system, and no, we wouldn’t want to take away any of the achievements of the Android team. Android is awesome and it’s making big inroads into the enterprise by virtue of market share and product quality.
But there’s another connection between BYOD and Linux in the enterprise, and it shows up what we see in cloud computing, too. That connection is the pattern of business adoption.
Cast your memory back the turn of the century, when Mandriva was MandrakeLinux and SUSE was S.u.S.E. Around that time, Linux was seen as the rogue element in IT, the operating system that was viewed with much disdain by competitors and yet was finding it’s way into server rooms. The press was full of those “you may already be using Linux” articles. (Shoot, I wrote some.)
Over time, IT and business managers learned that Linux was not the scary bugaboo it was purported to be, and soon became a standard part of IT, as was open source software.
Today, we see history repeating itself. As users bring their own devices into the workplace, once again IT finds itself reacting to technology and working to merge that technology with business processes in a safe and constructive way. Just like they did with Linux when staffers were turning to the free operating system to get things done.
Cloud computing is in the same boat: cloud itself is tricky to manage and if not done right can expose your company to risk and even a lack of productivity. IT managers want to use it, but they want to use it correctly. And we get that. We’ve been deploying enterprise Linux for decades, and making sure technology and business work smoothly together is just as important as making sure the latest security update is uploaded to your servers.
So, for now, perhaps the conversation around Linux in the enterprise is little muted while everyone’s talking about cloud and BYOD. Both of these technologies will parallel the adoption of Linux in the enterprise, so we’re on familiar ground here. Making business work with technology is a critical mission for any IT manager, and it’s all concerns and goals we’ve heard before.