Linux is becoming a major player in the server and cloud computing world, with companies such as Cisco and IBM expected to soon add new hardware and software vendors to their offerings.
But its growth has also brought challenges for Intel, which has been hit by a surge in demand for its latest x86 chipsets, including its upcoming Skylake processors.
Linux hosts, which are typically a smaller subset of Linux operating systems, are increasingly popular with enterprise customers, especially those that rely on Linux-based servers, as well as customers who are building software that runs on those servers.
These new Linux hosts are often less expensive than servers, though Intel hasn’t publicly disclosed pricing for them, though some reports suggest prices may range between $1,000 and $1 in the US and $2,000 to $2.5 million in the UK.
In the US, the cost of Linux hosts is on par with servers, with Intel estimating that its Linux-hosted servers can run $1 a month.
In the UK, it costs $400 a month, though the company declined to provide an exact figure.
While Linux hosts have been on the rise for a while, they haven’t yet become mainstream, said Ryan Smith, a partner at Intel’s Cloud and Enterprise Group.
He said he believes the company has more to learn about how to make Linux-to-host software a viable business model.
“It’s a really difficult problem,” Smith said.
“We haven’t quite made it to the point where we can say ‘OK, we’re doing it, we can sell this to the end users.'”
Intel has been building its cloud and cloud server software for more than a decade, but the Linux-backed platforms that are being sold now don’t have the same support for other cloud computing services as the Linux operating system, such as Apache Spark and Spark Streaming, and are generally not compatible with cloud applications.
In many cases, Intel is making Linux-powered hardware available to end users without providing the full-featured software for it, said Greg Gorman, a principal analyst at Gartner.
That’s the same problem Intel has had for a number of years, said Adam Johnson, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
Intel didn’t announce any plans to make a Linux-compatible Linux server until this year, and Johnson said he expects Intel will continue to have to compete with other cloud providers on price.
For example, Intel has yet to offer Linux-friendly hardware for its new Xeon processors.
The company hasn’t even announced the release date of its new Skylake server chips, and it hasn’t revealed pricing for its upcoming chipsets.
Intel’s recent move to open source the Linux kernel has also made it easier for other vendors to create their own Linux-specific hardware.
Intel announced in October that it would be making a small percentage of its Xeon chipsets available as open source software, which would allow other vendors such as AMD and ARM to develop their own open source versions of Intel’s hardware.
For Linux, Intel isn’t the only cloud provider offering Linux-built servers, and there are a number that have started to sell their servers for less than the price of Intel hardware.
LinuxHost, a company that sells Linux-branded servers to companies in the private and public sectors, has a long list of clients who rely on the Linux software.
One of those clients is the company that owns a large number of Intel servers, Cisco Systems.
“We’re going to have a very active presence in the enterprise and in the cloud,” Cisco’s chief operating officer, Kevin Gentry, said in a recent interview.
“For us, Linux is a way of life.”
Cisco has sold Intel’s Skylake CPUs to companies that use them to run Cisco’s software and products for security and cloud-based applications, but Gentry said that for the most part, Cisco doesn’t want to ship Intel servers to clients that don’t use Linux.
“When it comes to our business, Linux doesn’t make sense,” Gentry told Bloomberg.
“There are customers who do use Linux, and they need our products, and we need their services.”
Coffee Stain, which also offers Linux-supported servers for the public sector, has been offering Linux servers for several years, but recently began offering them to companies outside of the public cloud.
“Linux is a critical piece of infrastructure for cloud computing, as it allows companies to build cloud services without the overhead of a traditional hosting provider,” the company said in an announcement.
“With this strategy, we are focused on helping businesses scale to more than 10,000 users without a dedicated hosting solution.
We believe that the Linux community can provide a tremendous amount of value to the entire cloud computing industry.”
Conde Nastro, the CEO of Coffee Stain, said his company is making money off of Intel, but it’s not the only company that’s trying to offer servers for cheaper.
Last year, he started selling Intel servers