When will mainstream business applications come to 64-bit Linux on commodity hardware? Next month, next year, or maybe never, depending on whom you talk to. With the notable exception of enterprise software vendor SAP, based in Germany, most major software vendors are watching the 64-bit Linux market unexcitedly and refusing to speculate as to when they plan to jump in. If SAP is any indication, they’ll most likely jump on Itanium first.
“It’s very important for us to have a business case before we move forward and commit to porting to another platform du jour,” says Jim Metcalf, director of foundation technology strategy at the SAS Institute, the Cary, N.C., maker of BI software. “Our view is that it’s still early days for this market. ... We are not getting a lot of customers that are asking for 64-bit Linux running on the Itanium chip.”
And this despite the fact that SAS already has a 32-bit Linux offering and that analytics applications are prime candidates to take advantage of the extra capacity that 64-bit Linux and Intel’s Itanium chip would offer. “You’ve got a tremendous amount of memory address space [with 64-bit Linux] that you can use when it comes to crunching the big problems,” Metcalf notes, adding that making real-time BI queries against large in-memory databases could be one of the more compelling uses of 64-bit Linux on Itanium.
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PeopleSoft, based in Pleasanton, Calif., plans to port its business applications to 32-bit versions of the Linux OS on both Intel and IBM hardware, but it has not announced any plans to port to 64-bit Linux on Itanium or Opteron, according to Technology Product Manager David Sayed. “Customers are saying, yes, the time is right for mission-critical applications on Linux,” he says. But the main areas in which he’s seen
64-bit uptake are database servers, and scientific and engineering applications that require large amounts of number crunching.
Although Oracle is not yet porting its applications to 64-bit Linux, the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company has decided to lead with its database server (as has IBM with DB2). “Our approach will be a staged one,” says Oracle Applications Vice President Greg Seiden. “The first to go to 64-bit will be the database; that’s where we see the greatest benefit in the near term.” Why? He points to a larger address space and more headroom on the database side, which will enable more concurrent users.