In a recent report by ComputerWorld, Unix is losing major ground in the SAP data center space. HP-UX is losing at a rate of about 41% and AIX (IBM) is losing at a rate of 18%. And in the time period (roughly 2.5 years) between October 2005 through March 2008, Unix to Linux conversions almost doubled over the previous evaluation period (2001 - September 2005).

So why is SAP bleeding Unix and patching the wounds with Linux?

The number one reason is cost. The second most reported answer is vendor independence.

Surprisingly, stability, processor type, and number of cores weren't mentioned as motivating factors in the swap. Stability is assumed and processor specifications are esoteric attributes to most non-technical individuals (decision makers).

Most companies that make the leap from Unix (or other OS) see a return on investment (ROI) in 9 months to 2.5 years.

The OS Migration Numbers (Percent Loss)

HP-UX - 40.9
AIX - 18.2
Solaris - 4.2
Windows - 13.6
OS/390 - 13.6
OS/400 - 4.5
Other* - 4.9

* Tru64 and Reliant

It's no surprise that companies are running to Linux to save money, reduce licensing overhead, and remove vendor lock-in. What comes as a bit of surprise is the type of Linux used for the migrations: Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). I would think that anyone wanting to save significant money wouldn't choose a vendor like Novell or Red Hat since they both have licensing and cost models that can be quite expensive in their own right.

For companies wanting or needing to save significant money, they should seek out Canonical and Ubuntu Linux. I'm sure Red Hat and Canonical have similar migration data for SAP and other traditionally Unix-based applications--stay tuned to this blog while I find and report on them for you.

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My company is trying to get away from Sun, Unix & Microsoft platforms for an Open Source Linux platforms for multiple reasons, but the top reason we are switching is to get rid of high costs of Vendor locked software.

Companies like ADP, Veritas/Symantec, IBM, McAfee have very unfriendly high costs associated with their software that are usually non-customizable, or if they are, for a giant fee. Smaller companies, or in our case companies that have "right-sized", simply can't afford it anymore in more ways than just money.

On occasion we have traded certain high cost vendors for lower cost vendors for safety net reasons. If only to reassure those at the top. :)

Thanks for the feedback. I'm actually glad to see this trend. If you notice, all the major Unix vendors have made significant investment in Linux technology--I think they see the writing on the wall.

This report is meaningless. It doesn't really show if Unix bleeding or not. It shows the numbers about just Linux migrations performed by some German company. This is why Novell, former SUSE, by the way. Where is other data to compare? How many upgrades (like HP-UX to HP-UX) did happen for the same period? How many other migrations, like AIX to Windows?


Well, it isn't a total comparison of all Unix migrations to Linux just the ones that this particular company did. It is simply their experience. And, Unix flavors are bleeding in favor of Linux. As I said at the end of my post, I'll do the research on those numbers and post them.