Linux in the enterprise will take a step forward with the announcement this week of a global initiative aimed at providing data center backup support across a broad array of applications. BakBone Software Inc., of San Diego, a provider of data backup and restore software, along with six of the leading Linux distributors, is forming what theyre calling the Linux Advantage initiative. Other founding partners include Red Hat Inc., of Raleigh, N.C.; SuSE Linux AG; Miracle Linux Corp. and Turbolinux Inc., both of Japan; Red Flag Software Co. Ltd., in China; and Conectiva S.A., in Latin America.
As part of its agreement with members, BakBone will guarantee that its NetVault software is certified on each of the partners Linux distributions. But the agreements are not exclusive, leaving the vendors and their customers free to use similar products from Legato Software and Veritas Software Corp., said Peter Eck, BakBones vice president of product management, in an interview with eWEEK.
BakBones support for the alliance members distributions, however, will enable Linux users to "aggressively accelerate their Linux adoption plans and confidently deploy a highly available, scalable and performance-driven Linux infrastructure with the same level of data protection that they are familiar with in other operating systems like Unix and Windows," Eck said.
Jeff Biehle, director of Strategic Alliances for SuSE Linux, in Austin, Texas, said SuSE avoids exclusive agreements as they could hinder SuSEs mission of ensuring deployability of Linux for mission-critical applications in the data center.
"We see this initiative as one of the ways of bringing that assurance to our customers. It is another arrow in the quiver of overcoming objections to Linux deployment, which revolved around the open nature of the operating system and the misconception that it is not well taken care of," Biehle said.
Beyond software integration issues, the initiative will also address one of the obstacles to the adoption of Linux in the data center: concern among enterprises as to what they might be sacrificing in the data protection arena by moving to Linux rather than the Unix and Windows platforms, said Eck. He added that the perceived lack of application support in the enterprise is the biggest negative perception the Linux community has to overcome.
OPEN-SOURCE ALLIESFounding partners of the Linux Advantage initiative:
"Its one thing to have Linux deployed as a file and print server, but another entirely if they are going to have to run mission-critical applications. As such, this initiative is a declaration that Linux is ready for the enterprise," Eck said.
Some customers, such as Jon Fullmer, a senior network engineer with Overstock.com Inc., an online retailer in Salt Lake City, agree. Overstock runs 70 SuSE Linux servers; nine Red Hat Advanced Servers; two servers running HP-UX 11.0; two running Solaris 2.6; 20 using Windows 2000; and five running Windows 2003.
"Having BakBones NetVault certified on each of the Linux distributions gives us a lot of freedom. We strive to use the best tool for the job. Sometimes, that will be SuSE. Sometimes, that will be Red Hat. Sometimes, that will be another distribution or operating system. With NetVault we dont have to cater our operating systems, or distributions, to our backup software," Fullmer said.
A key strategic goal was also for Linux Advantage partners to align with vendors of mission-critical and non-mission-critical applications to continue driving Linux adoption, SuSEs Biehle said.