Linux Gains Support from Database Vendors

Linux's enterprise credibility climbed further during the past two weeks as IBM released its DB2 database for Linux and its Transarc subsidiary announced that the upcoming version of its AFS file server will include a Linux port.

With IBM's Dec. 7 beta release of DB2, all of the four largest database makers now have products for Linux.

Users and vendors have been eyeing one another's interest in Linux to see whether they should invest in the technology. IBM's new products for Linux, coupled with those of other vendors, will help encourage more corporate customers to look at the operating system, said Michael Goulde, an analyst at Patricia Seybold Group in Boston.

But vendors may be pushing Linux only because they are struggling for a way to compete with Microsoft Corp., he said. "The most skeptical among us would say they are grasping at straws," Goulde said.

Pittsburgh-based Transarc's release of AFS could help drive the adoption of Linux among researchers in high-energy physics at Stanford University's Linear Accelerator in Palo Alto, California. Assistant director of computing services Chuck Boeheim said researchers use the Solaris version of AFS file server to serve about 600G bytes of data to collaborators in about 40 countries.

Smaller is Better

Access to the data might be quicker and more reliable if the network were redesigned with several smaller, cheaper Linux servers rather than a few large Solaris servers, Boeheim said.

Transarc will sell the server licenses for new AFS flavors for Linux - and for Windows NT - for US$1,995 each when Version 3.5 is released in February. The server license for various Unixes will sell for $4,995 each.

Other users remain unconvinced that Linux is worth their attention, at least yet. A data center manager at a major U.S. insurance company who asked not to be identified said the industry's emerging support for Linux isn't yet sufficient to alter his company's choice of running DB2 on Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP-UX Unix.

Goulde agreed that Linux won't run mission-critical applications, at least in corporate environments, in the immediate future.

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