Linux Rules the Day at CA World

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-07-15

Linux Rules the Day at CA World

LAS VEGAS—Computer Associates International Inc., which has pegged Tuesday as Linux Solution Day at its CA World conference here, is working on a range of new Linux deals, initiatives and products, including an upcoming formal partnership with Linux solution provider Ximian Inc.

CA is also proposing its current Event Notification Facility (ENF) as a stand-alone product for use in the Linux community. ENF is a set of interfaces that allow things like security products to directly plug into the Linux kernel without having to make source-level modifications.

"What we want to do is open this up as a stand-alone package and put it out in the open-source community so that Red Hat and all the other Linux vendors can just pick it up as part of their normal build," Sam Greenblatt, senior vice president and chief architect of the Computer Associates Linux Development Group, told eWEEK on Monday here at CA World.

As an operating system interface service that enables applications to obtain event data from the operating system, this stand-alone product is essentially a way of registering product functions when certain events occur.

It is also generalized and not limited just to CAs line of products as "anybody with kernel dependencies will benefit from it," Greenblatt said.

SuSE Linux evaluated the product and has signed on to use it, Greenblatt said, while Red Hat is currently evaluating it. The greatest challenge is achieving critical mass and getting consensus on the product in the Linux community, he said.

The development of the product was a shift for CA, which is now moving away from writing specifications first and developing the product later toward a policy of writing the code first and then going to the community with it, as is evidenced in this set of interfaces.

The product is necessary as there is a class of products today that have code in the Linux kernel and every time even the smallest patch comes along, the people writing the patches do not really have upward compatibility in mind, Greenblatt said.

"They will add fields in the middle of structures and theyll change semantics, which makes it very difficult to keep up with if you are a vendor of something with kernel code," he said. "So what weve proposed is a set of interfaces that allow things like security products to directly plug into the kernel without having to have these source-level modifications."

Page Two

While CA is committed to open innovation and will be working with the community and its customers to derive value, "if we take open source under the right General Public License [GPL] and incorporate it, we are going to win," Greenblatt said.

"Everybody knows that a secure shell is a lot better than a remote shell and OpenSSH 3.6 is shipped free of charge in every distribution. Wouldnt it be nice to take OpenSSH and integrate it into a fuller software distribution package that can track it secured and ensure that you are doing the right things?" he said.

Greenblatt said CA was also working toward a formal partnership with Ximian. While he declined to be specific about the nature of that relationship, he did ask, "Why would I want to write a package manager when Ximians Red Carpet product is out there? If you had Linux and it was in the enterprise, why wouldnt you tie that into a larger solution?"

CA is also working on better cluster management and provisioning; better Web management; as well as storage management with virtualization as the current Veritas virtual manager is very specific. Customers also want help with bonded nets and routed mesh.

"We are absolutely committed to application management, change management as well as actual management to make the administrators job easier. These are the areas that you are going to see a lot of products fill out in our portfolio over the next year, starting in the near future, at LinuxWorld San Francisco next month," he said.

Five new CA products will be announced at LinuxWorld, all of them fitting into the above-mentioned categories, Greenblatt added, declining to be more specific.

CA is also devoting a day of its conference—Tuesday—to Linux, referring to it as its Linux Solution Day. This will include a session dealing with the future of Linux, from the upcoming 2.6 kernel and beyond, as well as a session looking at hardware and Linux and how to establish a solid platform.

Another session will examine mission-critical Linux performances with optimized hardware and databases, as well as a customer roundtable to discuss their Linux experiences.

Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux and the first full-time fellow at the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) will be present, as will Larry Augustin, chairman of VA Software, and John "Maddog" Hall, an executive director of Linux International.

Page Three

Responding to a question about the SCO Groups lawsuit against IBM and its claims that the Linux operating system is an unauthorized derivative of Unix, to which SCO owns the rights, Greenblatt said that while CA does not comment on pending lawsuits, he feels it is "just ambient noise."

"You have to wonder how serious someone is about the intellectual property he is trying to enforce when he files a lawsuit and then stands up and says hell go away if you buy his company for $3 billion," Greenblatt said in a reference to SCOs CEO Darl McBride.

CA has not found that any of its customers are "overly concerned. We have not found anybody backing off because of SCOs actions," he said.

"There have been very few lawsuits in the United States that have upheld patents because the nature of software," he said, adding that "in 1994 BSD was sued by AT&T and that matter was never resolved because if you look at code like that, its very easy to trace."

CA itself is putting its money where its mouth is and is running 25 percent of its business on Linux, on Apache and Tomcat, from its Web sites to its Support Connect customer service operation, which was written on Linux.

While Torvalds has pushed the final release of the upcoming 2.6 kernel out to December, users will immediately see the benefits of SMP (symmetric multiprocessing), the benefits of the Logical Volume Manager 2, Virtual Server, as well as some Linux high availability as these will be backported into existing products.

"The 2.4 kernel was a disaster from a reliability standpoint. Torvalds is going to aggressively test the 2.6 kernel at the Open Source Development Lab, with HP, IBM and Intel providing a range of new hardware for the lab to do that," Greenblatt said.

Torvalds on Monday released a test version of the 2.6 kernel, which is designed to push programmers to concentrate on bug finding and fixing and not on new features.

Rocket Fuel