IDC recently released a analysis of the x86 server market “Business-Critical Workloads: Supporting Business-Critical: Computing with an Integrated Server Platform.”  If you don’t have time to read the whitepaper, check out the ComputerWorld webcast covering this material here.

What does the white paper show?  Clearly, IT managers have realized that large, proprietary UNIX systems cost their businesses more all up (support, staff, hardware, other).  That realization shows itself in IDC’s numbers - shipment growth rates for these big RISC dinsours is flat or declining while the rest of the technology world continues to expand.  In many data centers UNIX systems are already gone.  Archeologial expeditions below the raised floor can yield remiders of their existenct - strange LVD SCSI cables and nutty looking power connectors.

“BP workloads are progressively shifting from mainframes and host servers based upon RISC and EPIC (Itanium-based) architectures to x86 servers” 
(BP = Business Processing)

How does this relate to Windows Server and business critical applications?  The move away from these monotlithic hosts to x86 is real and I believe it is accellerating with new technology introductions like Intel’s Xeon 7500 processor line.  The question for IT managers isn’t if it makes sense to move (the whitepaper and other industry analysis shows that!), but to what operating system to migrate critical business processes. 

…the x86 platform, particularly when paired with the Windows Server operating environment, has become the leading platform of choice, and today heavily dominates new deployments…

Microsoft and server OEMs have invested heavily in improving software and hardware to support business critical workloads.  In the last decade there have been huge increases in the percentage of business workloads trusted to Windows Server - from Windows 2000 through Windows Server 2008 R2. 

The IDC whitepaper includes real world customer “snap shots”  that are worth reading through.  I’m sure organizations that have already moved key business process from UNIX to Windows may find it hards to remember what it was like working the RISCy stone age! 
-John
John Kelbley, Senior Technical Program Manager, Windows Server