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Monterey Partners Miffed. IBM denies death of 64-bit Unix project.

BIG BLUE IS TRYING TO PUT a happy face on its 64-bit Unix strategy. But many people still are hopping mad over how IBM is handling the morphing of Project Monterey into AIX 5L, an upcoming operating system that’s supposed to run Linux, SCO UnixWare and IBM AIX apps.

Specificbones of contention include the name of IBM’s OS, as well as how much code will be used from joint development work with Monterey partners SCO and Sequent. Mostly however, Monterey watchers just want to be better informed about what IBM is really doing.

In presentations at IBM’s recent Solutions 2000 conference, IBM marketers told developers that AIX 5L–an OS ultimately slated to run on both the IA-64 and PowerPC processors–will add “Linux affinity” in release 5.1, due out next spring. “With AIX 5L, Project Monterey effectively goes away,” remarked Miles Barel, IBM’s program director for Unix marketing.

Unfortunately, though, all of IBM’s partners didn’t yet know about all of IBM’s plans. Deepak Advani, IBM’s director of Unix strategy, since has admitted that, as of last week, IBM still hadn’t informed Caldera about choosing the name AIX 5L. Caldera has announced plans to acquire SCO’s Unix operations (see related story, p. 26).

David McCrabb, president of SCO Server Software, says he was personally included in IBM’s loop. McCrabb is set to become president and COO of Caldera, assuming shareholders approve the deal.

Despite some market confusion, IBM’s Advani maintains that Monterey remains “alive,” pointing to continuing joint development work, as evidence.

But how much of Monterey’s code actually will show up in AIX 5L? The answer depends on whom you ask. After reading our online coverage of Monterey, Israeli resident Hetz BenHamo placed a string of trans-Atlantic phone calls to his IBM and SCO contacts. He says he was told that Project Monterey will contain only half of the features he had been expecting.

The relationship between IBM and SCO had been getting strained even before IBM’s announcement of AIX 5L, say industry analysts. According to Stacey Quandt of Giga Information Group, SCO staffers have worried that the 5L code will be mainly “an enhancement of IBM’s existing AIX.”

Last week, it was SCO’s turn to pull a surprise. SCO unveiled a new version of UnixWare, containing an application binary interface to Linux kernel personalities. SCO’s McCrabb disclosed that, even before the Caldera deal, SCO had been planning a Unix product of its own, respective of the joint development work of Monterey.

Meanwhile, some Monterey watchers accuse IBM of rewriting history. Dozens of people have flooded online forums to discuss the controversy. Many are unhappy over IBM’s apparent attempt to whitewash the fact that Project Monterey has changed course.

“IBM doesn’t like to admit they’re killing a project. Look what happened earlier with OS/2,” says Giga Group’s Quandt. Indeed, IBM never officially pulled OS/2’s plug, but no major upgrades are planned.

Originally Published in Sm@rt Partner, August 28, 2000

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