LinuxWorld Visitors Look for Real-World Apps

Reporter's Notebook: This year's LinuxWorld conference has drawn more IT professionals who say they are convinced that Linux is ready to be put to work in real-world business applications.

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SAN FRANCISCO—The LinuxWorld Conference & Expo here this week has drawn fewer people who came to learn what Linux is all about and more who are ready to buy Linux products that can deliver cost saving, performance and reliability.

That was the view expressed by several LinuxWorld attendees who took time out to talk about what they saw and liked at the show.

Matt Hagedorn, an IT consultant with Matrix Computer Solutions, of Sausalito, Calif., came mainly to look at Linux systems and applications that would be well-suited for small business environments.

Hagedorn said he was particularly impressed with Scalix Corp.s Linux e-mail server.

"I liked how everything just runs on the central server and you dont have to worry about Outlook clients or whatever you have running," Hagedorn said.

With Scalix and Linux, "its easier to add many more users with less configuration" than is required with Windows or other systems, he said.

Network administrators are going to like an e-mail system "where you can have a server running on Linux and you can run any client operating system that you like," Hagedorn said.

Applications like Scalix are going to help with the acceptance of Linux in businesses of all sizes, but particularly small offices with as few as five users or more. "That could be the tipping point for Linux," he said.

The show seems to have drawn more people than ever, and attendees seem to be showing more interest specifically in Linux solutions than in open source in general, said Angie Anderson, vice president and general manager of Novell Inc.s enterprise platform services.

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"There seems to be more serious interest in Linux from companies that are looking for real solutions," Anderson said. "People seem to have more experience with Linux this year," she said. "They have and applied it and used the different solutions" that are available in the market, she said.

Her impression is that many of the people who are looking into Linux these days are "stuck in some kind proprietary environment and they are they are looking for way to use Linux applications to break out," Anderson said. "They are trying to figure out how to leverage Linux as a low-cost solution," she said.

For Tommy Tam, president of Aerio Inc., a startup producer of open-source productivity applications based in San Jose, Calif., the show provided an opportunity to see what other application developers are doing.

"I wanted to get a view of where Linux and the open-source community [are] moving toward in terms of the applications and the technology," Tam said.

Aerio is assembling a suite of productivity applications for small businesses and workgroups, including customer relationship management, project management, groupware, workflow software and report generators, he said.

"We are interested in finding out what other people are doing; what companies are doing; to find out what is the competition out there and what are the potential application components that we can integrate into our applications," said Tam.

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He said he found the shows exhibitors are weighted more toward Linux operating system, development tools, utilities and hardware products and fewer of the business applications that he was interested in.

SugarCRM was about the most prominent Linux application provider present on the show floor, he noted.

There were two ways to interpret the lack of applications: Either there is a need to develop more native Linux applications, or LinuxWorld may not be the prime venue for application providers, he said.

But overall Tam said he was "encouraged" to see the amount of interest people had in Linux and Linux applications.

Some attendees traveled here from overseas to get a look at the latest Linux developments.

Roberto Guimaraes, a systems analyst with the Bank of Brazil, said he came to the show to look for products that might help the bank expand its use of Linux.

The bank currently uses Linux on its ATM servers and is looking into whether it can extend its use of Linux to the ATM terminals, he said.

The successful use of Linux on the ATM servers has raised the banks confidence that it can work in other applications, he said.

The bank, which specializes in banking services that support Brazilian agriculture, is interested in Linux because it provides good performance for less cost, Guimaraes said.

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John Pallatto

John Pallatto

John Pallatto has been editor in chief of QuinStreet Inc.'s since October 2012. He has more than 40 years of experience as a professional journalist working at a daily newspaper and...