Linux Gains Respect
On the same day that Compaq Computer said Linux still has a long way to go, rival IBM said: On our servers, its good enough for Wall Street.
It was a sign of how far the open source operating system has come since last years LinuxWorld trade show, where speakers wondered whether Linux could be accepted for critical tasks deep inside the enterprise. At LinuxWorld in San Francisco last week, IBM and Compaq differed, not on whether Linux will penetrate the corporation, but mainly on how far it can go with its current capabilities.
In an opening-day keynote speech, Compaq Chief Technology Officer Shane Robison said Linux "should be proud of its momentum in the marketplace" but that it was falling short in its lack of a documented standard, systems administration tools and around-the-clock technical support.
"System throughput can be improved, and manageability enhancements are still needed," Robison said.
IBM, meanwhile, put the Securities Industry Automation Corporation on display as exhibit A for Linuxs viability as a serious e-business platform. SIAC, which operates the computers and communications networks of both the New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange, is running a key customer application under Linux on an IBM zSeries mainframe, said Gerard Sztabnik, SIACs director of application development.
Sztabnik developed a new application, Artmail, to automate SIACs transaction reporting via e-mail to its clients, the brokerage houses that use the Amex and the NYSE. The system was originally developed for two Sun Microsystems servers running Solaris, but the firm decided to move it to Linux to reduce costs. "We ported it in about two and a half days," Sztabnik said. "It was a piece of cake."
Running Artmail on the IBM mainframe was SIACs "first foray into Linux," Sztabnik added, but more applications are slated to run in the same environment.
Other vendors attempted to address systems management issues with Linux. Aduva and Hewlett-Packard said they were jointly selling Aduvas Director console management for Linux administrators. Director can tap into an Aduva knowledge base that contains thousands of rules about which open source components - such as those that make up Linux or Apache - work or dont work with each other. It then helps a systems administrator arrive at desirable configurations and distributes them to machines on the network.
In another sign of Linuxs growing maturity, MandrakeSoft, the distributor of the Mandrake Linux, offered its Bastille Linux version that helps the user to harden the operating system against security threats.