The LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco last week put the spotlight on a growing opportunity for enterprise customers: the ability to integrate open source software into existing IT architectures from the data center to the desktop.
"A major theme this year was the increasing 'enterprise-centricity' of many Linux and open source software solutions," says Michael Dortch, principal business analyst and IT infrastructure management practice leader at Robert Frances Group Inc. "IT executives should expect to see more offerings and services designed to help integrate open source and proprietary solutions into their organizations' IT architecture from larger vendors with deep enterprise experience (such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sun Microsystems)"
Organizers estimated attendance would be about 10,000, and those there said the show floor was bustling with more enterprise users and IT executives than in years past. The number of exhibitors, both established vendors and start-ups, jumped by 55 from last year to a total of more than 200.
Product announcements included the typical hardware and kernel news with HP and Unisys (a Microsoft devotee in the past) announcing support for Linux on their high-end servers. Novell said it was beginning to ship SuSE Enterprise Server 9.0 with support for the 2.6 Linux kernel, which provides better support for big multiprocessor systems.
News also centered on expanded desktop support: HP and Sun introduced thin clients running Linux, and HP unveiled what it called the first business notebook to ship with Linux preloaded.
IBM used the event to announce expanded independent software vendor support for Linux on its Power-based servers, and unveiled plans to turn its Cloudscape relational database, which it uses in its own software products, into an open source project through the Apache Software Foundation. The reason is to spur Java application development, IBM executives say.
Computer Associates International also stepped into the open source realm with its Ingres relational database, saying it would open up the source code under the CA Trusted Open Source License. At the same time, the company announced a US$1 million challenge to developers to create an open source database migration tool kit to help businesses migrate from other databases to Ingres.
Leading Linux distributor Red Hat displayed a focus beyond the Linux operating system with the introduction of a Java application server.
"Operating systems are important, but they're only one piece of the puzzle," says Pierre Fricke, an analyst at D.H. Browne Associates. "If you're going to be a mainline player going head-to-head with Unix and Windows, you've got to have all the rest of the stuff, and the conference was about all the rest of the stuff."