Compaq executive kicks off Linuxworld

Compaq Computer Corp. kicked off the annual LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here Tuesday calling for improved scalability, reliability, security, and support before Linux will truly take off in the enterprise.

"There are [security] vulnerabilities in open source," said this morning's keynote speaker Shane Robison, Compaq's CTO and senior vice president, who challenged the Linux community to come up with answers to these shortcomings.

Compaq at the same time announced the availability of the Compaq Linux and Tru64 UNIX Portability Kit. Available free to developers and enterprises, Compaq reports the kit is designed to allow application deployment across Linux and Unix systems. In particular, the company is attempting to garner increased support for its AlphaServer platforms. According to Gartner, the platform will be phased out within two years and trails market leaders Sun Microsystems Inc., IBM Corp., and Hewlett-Packard Co.

Robison used much of his keynote for a lengthy discussion of the state of telecommmunications and computing from the 1890s until today, peppered with obvious plugs for Compaq's role in support of Linux within the server environment. He finally arrived at an evaluation of Linux's role in the enterprise, stating that although it has now entered the mainstream, significant challenges remain.

The number one reason enterprise customers are hesitant to deploy Linux in mission-critical environments beyond Web and file serving is because it "lacks the one-stop shop of support," otherwise offered by vendors.

The second shortcoming is the "need for highly skilled individuals to deploy and run mission-critical applications," he said. In addition, attention to a coherence and adoption of open-source standards and better scalability of large Linux systems is needed, he said.

Linux must also improve in the areas of system throughput and enhanced administration capabilities for large enterprise applications before large ISVs move to greater acceptance, Robison said.

At least one keynote attendee was very positive after the discussion, observing that Linux has made significant gains in terms of enterprise acceptance. "That was pretty impressive," said computer systems analyst Walter C. Lowry of West Valley City, Utah, of two demonstrations Tuesday morning.

Robison demonstrated how a Compaq iPaq handheld running a Linux operating system and IPv6 could seamlessly transmit live video as it moved between the wireless transmission ranges offered by two mobile receiving stations located on either side of the stage.

In addition, Compaq showed off the ability of Oracle Real Application Clusters running on Compaq SuSe Linux servers to scale a 4-way configuration without downtime.

"The open-source community should be very proud of its accomplishments," Robison said.

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