Practical Technology

for practical people.

Gotta Make the In-Laws Happy: Caldera and SCO tie the knot

April 23rd, 2001 · No Comments

CALDERA AND SCO WILL finally exchange wedding vows next month, and SCO integrators are eager to attend the ceremony.

During the May 4 event, Caldera’s pending purchase of UnixWare, OpenServer and SCO Professional Services is expected to receive shareholder approval.

That’s good news for SCO’s partners. Caldera couldn’t give much support or information to SCO’s resellers as the $23 million deal wound its way through the legal process.

When the deal gained SEC approval last month, it freed Caldera to share some general business plans with SCO’s partners. Once the May 4 shareholder vote is completed, Caldera will likely crank up the volume on its partnering strategy for SCO integrators.

Caldera hopes to give allies and customers the best of both worlds: Linux’s flexibility and low cost at the departmentallevel, and Unix’s rock-solid reliability at the high end of the market.

Still, Caldera will face plenty of challenges. SCO’s customer base has eroded over the years and dramatically declined between 1999 and last year (SP, April 16, p. 30, www.smartpartnermag.com/issues). It’s not “clear that Caldera can get that share back,” says Dan Kusnetzky VP at International Data Corp.

Analysts note that Sun Solaris continues to dominate the high-end market, with Windows 2000, Windows NT and Red Hat Linux enjoying strong success on Web servers and departmental servers.

Caldera CEO Ransom Love’s strategy, previewed at CeBit in Germany last month, is fairly simple. The company is embedding Linux features into Unix, and vice versa. At the same time, Caldera continues to enhance and refine OpenLinux, UnixWare (to be known as OpenUnix) and perhaps even OpenServer. Version 8 of OpenUnix went into beta this month.

Even before the Caldera deal, SCO was bolstering UnixWate to support the Linux Kernel personality (LKP). Going forward, that means OpenUnix and OpenLinux will have the same GNU tools and libraries, which stick like glue to the proposed Linux Standards Base’s specifications. As a result, developers will be able to compile and run Linux applications on top of UnixWare, which could make UnixWare more appealing to business customers and open-source developers.

Caldera will promote OpenLinux for departmental servers and Web servers, while pushing OpenUnix for high-end servers and enterprise systems.

The company hopes to avoid the type of marketing and development setbacks that plagued UnixWare when Novell owned the operating system in the mid-1990s.

At the time, Novell positioned NetWare as a file-and-print server, and UnixWare as an application server. But the UnixWare and NetWare development teams had a poor working relationship, and plans to meld the two operating systems ultimately stalled. Novell ended up selling UnixWare to SCO, where it enjoyed some initial success before losing momentum in recent years.

Meanwhile, questions continue to surround OpenServer, which was SCO’s flagship operating system until the company acquired UnixWare. SCO tried to force OpenServer customers to embrace UnixWare, but many customers scoffed at the idea.

Some SCO resellers hope that Caldera enhances OpenServer with LKP and other Linux-related features. Without those capabilities, resellers say the end of OpenServer could be near.

Software vendors apparently agree. Many developers, particularly database companies, refuse to port their latest applications to OpenServer because it’s considered to be a dead-end platform. “Caldera talked the talk, but we have to see if they will walk the walk,” says a Midwest SCO reseller.

On the corporate side, some of SCO’s established hardware partners applaud Caldera’s strategy. Gary Campbell, CTO of Enterprise Servers at Compaq, says the merger “will strengthen the relationship” between his company and Caldera.

Compaq preloads OpenLinux eServer 2.3.1 on Compaq ProLiant ML330, DL320 and DL360 servers.

Some of SCO’s oldest and best customers have already announced that they’ll be sticking with Caldera.

BMW, one of SCO’s largest customers worldwide, has a lot of confidence in Caldera International, says the car maker’s European director. BMW is buying the newest release of SCO OpenServer 5 licenses to upgrade existing motor testing applications to the new generation of tester systems, according to the BMW director.

Caldera insists that the marriage of Unix and Linux will be a success, but newlyweds tend to be idealistic. Reality usually doesn’t set in until after the honeymoon.

Big Blue Is Red Hot on Unix Trail

Supporting Linux and AIX alike, IBM’s new AIX 5L operating system and p660 and p620 servers are part of the company’s ongoing push to take over the Unix market lead through a combination of direct sales and partnerships.

IBM VP Mike Kerr thinks that IBM’s just released midrange SMP servers, bundled with AIX 5L, will play mainly in existing AIX environments where IT staffers want to experiment with emerging Linux apps on the side.

Other AIX servers have run Linux before. However, the new pSeries servers add SOI (silicon on insulator technology), adopted from IBM’s higher-end zSeries servers, for faster chip performance.

IBM expects to release TPC-C benchmarks this week, showing better results on a six-way p660 system than on an eight-way Sun UltraSparc 3.

On the scalability side, AIX 5L contains elements of Project Monterey, an earlier joint venture between IBM and Santa Cruz Operation (SCO).

To support 5L, IBM has added several hundred new direct salespeople. The company will attack the enterprise market directly, and the small to midrange market through resellers and integrators. ASPs will also be a target for the p660 rack-mount system.

Darren Shallcross, VP of business development for Big Blue partner Solution Technology Inc., says his midmarket corporate customers will try out Linux e-mail, Lotus Notes and firewall systems.

Caldera will also be entitled to sell AIX 5L after its SCO acquisition goes through. As insiders see it, though, more of Caldera’s energies will go to selling its own UnixWare 7, also containing Monterey elements.

First published in Sm@rt Partner

Tags: Business · IBM · Linux · Operating System · SCO · Unix