Who would have guessed that this duo - Java and Linux - would revitalize the development community and help customers make the move to an open, standards-based approach to computing?
The momentum surrounding Java and Linux is undeniable. In just a few short years, both have grown from grassroots movements to leading topics in CTO offices around the world. The result is that both Java and Linux have support from multiple vendors and support multiple platforms - giving businesses the flexibility required in today's ever-changing marketplace.
As the momentum builds, it's clear that developers go where the action is. Over the last three years Linux has been the fastest-growing server operating system and IDC projects that it will continue to be the fastest growing throughout their projection period.
When Linux first entered the picture, it was mainly used for Web servers and file and print serving. No additional Linux-based applications were required beyond Apache and SAMBA. Over time, businesses recognized the benefits of the operating system and as Linux matured, they expanded the use of the OS to run critical applications, such as e-commerce, accounting, ERP, and CRM.
It was at this phase of Linux adoption that the developer community really started to link Java and Linux together. As businesses demanded more Linux-based applications, developers turned to Java - because of its multiplatform support - to create the apps.
Another critical element that's driving the success of Java and Linux is Eclipse. Eclipse is an open-source development platform that makes it much easier to create tools and applications that work on a number of different operating systems, including Linux. With Eclipse implemented as a Java-based framework, the tools that were built on this technology would not be locked into a particular operating system, which was just what developers wanted.
While it's true that IBM contributed the technology to open source and eclipse.org, it has been broadly adopted by developers and the tools vendors - including IBM's key competitors. The numbers speak for themselves. In its first year of availability, 175 software vendors have participated in the project and have committed to delivering Eclipse-based tools; there have been more than 2.5 million downloads of the free Eclipse code by developers from around the world. Pretty big numbers and a hot Java-based technology by most anyone's metrics.
While it's impossible to accurately chart the number of Linux-based applications that exist, the number of developers who are just working with IBM software has skyrocketed over the last five months. In that short time, more than 34,000 developers have created over 4,200 Linux-based applications using IBM software. Creating this number of apps in five months - on any technology - is simply amazing.
After taking a close look at these new applications, it quickly registered that all of these new apps were developed using the Eclipse-based WebSphere Studio tools for Linux, a Java tool. Over 56% of these developers said the new applications were created for a Java-based app server that supports Web services.
Of course, this should not be surprising. Whether you talk to Microsoft or the J2EE-based pack, which includes Sun, IBM, Oracle, BEA, and others, everyone agrees - Web services is the direction for new application development. Developers want to create apps that support a standards-based infrastructure that will work with a variety of operating systems. They want an alternative to Windows and .NET. Increasingly, developers are using an Eclipse-based set of tools that supports J2EE and Web services, enabling the deployment of new applications on any operating system, including Linux.
The momentum surrounding Java and Linux represents a huge shift in the IT industry. More and more businesses are making the move to an open, standards-based approach that works across platforms instead of getting locked into a proprietary Windows-centric platform like .NET.
As Forrest Gump would say, Java and Linux "go together like peas and carrots."
Scott Handy is director, Linux Software Solutions for the IBM Software Group, and is responsible for Linux activity across IBM's broad portfolio of e-business infrastructure software. Scott has a BS in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley.