The battle for corporate customers is heating up among Linux distributors, with SuSE Linux AG announcing this week that its Linux Enterprise Server 8.0 product is now available for Intel Corp.s Itanium 2 processors.
Company officials are touting Linux Enterprise Server 8.0 as the only Linux operating system that can be deployed on six hardware platforms under a uniform code base.
Linux users, including some at Wall Street financial companies, want support for as many hardware platforms as possible. Robert Lefowitz, director of Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc.s technical architecture group, in New York, said Linux is attractive because its not tied to one hardware platform.
Speaking in his personal capacity at a recent discussion about Linux usage at financial services companies, Lefowitz said Merrill is finding great benefits to running Linux on IBM zSeries servers.
"But the drawback is that much of the software it needs is not available for the zSeries," Lefowitz said.
SuSE officials said that with Linux Enterprise Server 8.0 for the Itanium 2, their companys software will run on 32-bit and 64-bit Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Intel processors; x86 hardware; and the entire IBM eServer line, which includes the iServer, pServer and zServer models.
Richard Seibt, SuSEs new chairman and CEO, said SuSE uses an automated tool, called Autobuild, that compiles the system according to which hardware platform it is going to run on. "So an administrator doesnt see any difference if he is working on a mainframe or on an Itanium-based system," Seibt said.
SuSE officials said the company is the first vendor to support all six platforms with a common code base, but market leader Red Hat Inc. does not agree. Erik Troan, a senior director at the Raleigh, N.C., company, said Red Hat has been using automated build technologies to ensure a synchronized code base across all its platforms since 1996. "It has been a critical part of our internal process for over five years," Troan said.
Red Hats Advanced Server and Advanced Workstation for Itanium 2 are already shipping in partnership with Hewlett-Packard Co., Troan said.
SuSE, of Nuremberg, Germany, is also playing catch-up with Red Hat in some enterprise systems certifications. The company is working with Oracle Corp. to be included in its Unbreakable Linux initiative, Seibt said, declining to give a specific time frame beyond "very soon."
ACROSS-THE-BOARD LINUXSuSEs platform support
One such customer is Acuity Lighting Group Inc., a Conyers, Ga., lighting company. Phillip Kilgore, its IT director, said Acuitys Dell Computer Corp.-Oracle-Red Hat solution helped ensure rapid delivery of complex manufacturing orders and uninterrupted availability of human resources information. The new platform supported more than 1,500 concurrent users and more than 1 terabyte of data, Kilgore said.
Seibt said SuSE will announce over the next few weeks what it says is the first customer win in the Itanium 2 cluster space. "This involves about 4,000 Itanium 2 processors and some 2,000 nodes," Seibt said, declining to give further details.