Top players take Linux higher

At the annual LinuxWorld Conference & Expo this week, top-tier vendors in the Linux space will roll out a raft of enterprise products, with a few vendors laying out road maps for pushing their open source strategies higher in the enterprise.

Chief among these vendors will be Hewlett-Packard, which is expected to show off a technically aggressive line of new Linux-based servers and workstations. The offerings will include HP's first Opteron-based workstation and a program called Big Tux that will see the company build support for 64-processor Integrity SuperDome servers into two of the most popular versions of Linux, Red Hat and Novell.

"The technology we will be showing through Big Tux, which refers to the Big Penguin, is a way to provide 64-way scalability using a standard Linux kernel," said Martin Fink, vice president of Linux strategy at HP. "What we will be highlighting through this technology is that Linux and open source in general needs to cross the threshold over to a true enterprise-class environment."

The new Opteron-based workstations, called the xw9300 series, will come bundled with either the Windows XP or desktop version of Linux. Company officials will be touting the advantages of the desktop systems' 64-bit hardware and software.

The company will also announce an enhanced version of its Open View server management software. The augmented product will monitor and manage a number of different open source applications, including the MySQL database, as well as JBoss and Tomcat Java-based software.

IBM will attempt to move its Linux-based server clustering strategy forward, taking the wraps off several new building blocks for its eServer Cluster 1350 portfolio, including improved high-performance switches with support for Ethernet and InfiniBand, interconnects, and storage options. IBM is also expected to announce that it will bundle a pretested version of Red Hat Inc.'s Linux distribution with its clustering offerings.

Also at the show, Cray will demonstrate its XD-1 supercomputer, fueled by a dual-core Opteron chip from Advanced Micro Devices. Last fall, the company rolled out its first single-processor-based XD-1 system, based on the Opteron chip.

"I think this will show we can provide a smooth evolution from single- to dual-core technology," said Adam Lorant, vice president of marketing at Cray. "Corporate users, through this chip, can not only double the density of the chip but get close to two times the price performance."

An analyst said the products focus on making Linux more suitable for enterprise use. "A lot of the larger vendors appear to be building on the (Linux) foundation already laid," said Stephen O'Grady, an analyst at Redmonk. "They are extending the tentacles of Linux into areas like clustering and high-performance, high-availability types of systems."

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