Top IT Players Tout Their Tech at Vortex

Cisco, Sun, Oracle and HP share their corporate visions at the annual Vortex executive conference.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—Open-source Linux game over, Sun Microsystems president Jonathan Schwartz said Tuesday at the annual Vortex conference here. There are a thousand distros, but Red Hat has taken the dominant IT position.

Schwartz claimed that nine out of 10 companies running Linux are using Red Hat in their data centers. He said the promise of open source, where an application runs across a wide range of distributions, is dead. "What you write to Red Hat will not run on SuSE, it will not run in Debian." He went on to mock the open-source movement, calling it "free like a puppy, not free as in speech."

Schwartz also pointed to two dominant concerns he uncovered during a recent trip to Wall Street: the exhaust systems of todays buildings cannot handle the heat coming from todays computers, and even with huge data centers, IT is out of space for new computing equipment.

To counter that, Sun is focusing on wringing power requirements out of its new SPARC chip, code-named Niagara. It will use just 60 watts of power, Schwartz said, "the same as a light bulb."

Schwartz also took a dig at IBM while describing his companys vision of utility computing. "On demand does not equal consultants on demand", he quipped, adding that its all about simplicity.

/zimages/3/28571.gifHow will Sun fare with its pay-per-use model for utility computing? Click here for a column.

Mike Volpi, senior vice president and general manager for routing technology at Cisco Systems, laid out his companys strategy during the morning session as well.

Volpi used an automotive analogy to describe Cisco, saying its in the business of making smart roads. The company plans on adding value above the router, including QOS (quality of service) and security features.

Volpi said he expects Cisco to continue to add services into its switches and routers. He pointed specifically to XML-aware routers that analyze packets to determine whether they contain malware and to make decisions based on whats inside. The challenge is that it takes a lot of processing power to do rapid packet analysis—but Moores Law helps.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read about a new Cisco switch aimed at SMBs (small and midsized businesses).

Ciscos big focus is on the intersection of communications, such as voice and video, with transactional apps. As an example, he described how Cisco worked with partner Network Solutions Inc. of Granger, Ind., to develop a VOIP-based application that kept a local and rural feel as offices were combined into a nationwide call center.

The afternoon session started with Shane Robison, chief technology officer at Hewlett-Packard Co. Robison positioned his company as the ultimate partner, while at the same time touting the benefits of its Compaq merger.

"Were number one or number two in servers, storage, Linux. The difference between our strategy [and IBMs] is that we will focus and invest in areas where we can truly lead, and well partner for the rest," Robison said. HP has adopted a model of placing fewer, larger bets and partnering to round out its offerings, he said.

He went on to describe HPs relationships with key partners as ones not of "coopetition" but of "compartners." "Some days were competitors, some days were partners," he said.

Next Page: Oracles president outlines its plans.