Looking at a longer term, though, Hughes notes that the biggest customer demands are for open systems. Users are also interested in engineered systems such as Oracle's Exadata appliance. Mainframe training is also in demand.
Georgia State University began migrating its ERP and other mission critical systems from Solaris-based servers to Linux after Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in 2009. The move was prompted by the ending of deep discounts available to educational institutions after the acquisition closed, said Keith Campbell, director of technology engineering at the university.
The university's Linux migration "was probably going to happen anyway because the bottom line is that the commodity x86 hardware was getting to where it could do the job," said Campbell. The decision was also aided by the fact that VMware virtualization tools were getting "more and more attractive," he said.
The university still runs Solaris to support some older applications that aren't being upgraded. Those will probably get replaced over the next year, said Campbell.
The university also runs some IBM AIX systems because of the capabilities of the vendor's Power 7 chip, which "for the right types of research are a very good fit," said Campbell.
Does he miss Solaris? "At the end of the day I've been through a lot of OS migrations, and there's always little things you miss, but there's not a huge difference between Red Hat and Unix," said Campbell.
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
Read more about linux and unix in Computerworld's Linux and Unix Topic Center.