Enterprise Unix Roundup: In Search of Tux

By Michael Hall (Send Email)
Posted May 26, 2005

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We scope out the latest trends at the New York City LinuxWorld Summit and discover it's really not about Linux anymore. ZABBIX rivals commercial network and system monitoring offerings with its alerting, reporting, graphing, and mapping capabilities.

Amy Newman
Michael Hall

We generally enjoy trade shows. A chance to get up close and personal with industry players, hear the latest buzz, and chat with both end users and midlevel execs.

The week's LinuxWorld Summit in New York City was no exception and proved our Linux evolution thesis, yet again. We first suspected change was afoot when we noticed the absence of much of the usual Linux fan base that often crowds the press pool. Then we noticed the crowd. The 100-plus attendees were an all-suit, no-tees crowd, with exec types crowding Marriott Marquis conference space. The exhibitors (who comprised much of the speaker pool) leaned heavily toward companies specialized in Linux migrations.

Attendees were focused on enterprise needs, mainly how they could increase profits by using Linux. The legal minefield of Open Source was thus a hot topic, with a primer on the evolution of Open Source and a definition of the alphabet soup of licenses and a second-day keynote by Eben Moglen. Moglen, the show's token voice of the Free software movement, spoke of a return to the "write once, run everywhere" environment that was the calling card of the glory days of shared development and the start of the Open Source movement.

The three tracks focused on emerging trends where Linux plays a key role: data center and virtualization, security, and the business effects. We learned much about high performance computing and virtualization, markets that are fast becoming Linux sweet spots.

The exhibitor list was also telling. Novell was the only vendor peddling a Linux distro, and IBM was the only OEM. A few ISVs and VARs were sprinkled in the mix. The remaining vendors were heavily positioned in the migration space. Migrations are a hot area this year, as hardware purchased for Y2K compliance is nearing obsolescence, and enterprises are shopping around.

One vendor that caught our attention on the show floor was startup company Aspeed Software, which develops software designed to migrate enterprises from single-CPU and SMP-based mainframes to algorithm-aware Linux and .NET clusters and grids. The company claims eight customers, several of which are Fortune 100 companies in a variety of industries. The software differs from other clustering solutions because it goes beyond workload balancing and looks at the applications themselves. The company has improved processing times as much as 50 percent, Aspeed President and CEO Joseph McCurdy told ServerWatch.

Migrations are a hot area this year, as hardware purchased for Y2K compliance is nearing obsolescence, and enterprises are shopping around.

Alebra was another company that registered on our radar. Like Aspeed, migrations are its bread and butter. Its Parallel Data Mover (PDM) product caught our eye in particular. The product takes an enterprise's current infrastructure, and — from a single point of control — links large volumes of data between MVS or Unix/Windows applications or between MVS images to speed up access and movement of data in heterogeneous environments. Now in version 3.1, PDM is used by a host of Fortune 500 companies, including Fidelity, JP Morgan Chase, MBNA, National Commerce Bank, and Nationwide Insurance.

Sun, the late arrival to the Open Source party, was decried both by the Open-Source-supporting crowd, which wasn't buying the CCDL hype, and the migration vendors, which have have been orchestrating a UltraSPARC/Solaris to x86 Linux movement.

Also of interest was that the lingering FUD that surrounds Linux does not include the pending SCO lawsuits. It's safe to say, the Salt Lake City vendor had no presence or mindshare at the show.

The crowd of midlevel execs was much more concerned about ROI, interoperability, and legal ramifications than community building, though they were also savvy enough to at least pay lip service to the Linux community's values and found value in Open Source.

Our biggest take-away from the show? Linux trade shows are now as sedate as any other, and that's about the clearest sign of corporate maturity out there.

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