Fiorina: Breakout Year for Linux

In her LinuxWorld keynote, HP Chairman Carly Fiorina announces a DreamWorks deal aimed at revolutionizing animation production using Linux and praises the open-source movement.

NEW YORK – Hewlett-Packard Co. and DreamWorks SKG today announced a three-year, multimillion-dollar technology strategic alliance aimed at revolutionizing animation production using Linux.

In her keynote address this morning to hundreds of Linux enthusiasts here at LinuxWorld, HP CEO and Chairman Carly Fiorina said the company will provide computing infrastructure for DreamWorks next-generation digital studio at its main facility in Glendale, which will make it possible to create the latest computer-generated animation more quickly and cost-effectively and with greater artistic quality than ever before.

The alliance also designates HP as DreamWorks sole "preferred technology provider" for core technology purchases. HP will supply technical workstations, servers, printers, networking and Linux technologies as DreamWorks develops its newest animation pipeline, Fiorina said.

Fiorina also used the keynote to justify HPs proposed merger with Compaq Computer Corp., saying the merged companys strategic commitment at the operating system level will be Windows, Unix and Linux.

"By joining with Compaq, we will greatly strengthen our enterprise computing business, our IT services business, our PC business, and our imaging and printing business so that we can provide the kind of end-to-end solutions that customers increasingly demand. And near the very top of that list of demands are inventions around Linux," she said.

One of the aspects of merging with Compaq that customers find most appealing is that both companies are committed to driving the adoption of Linux on the Intel and Itanium platforms. "Together we have an unbeatable team focused on the enterprise and consumer," Fiorina said.

"There are people who find change exciting, others find it exhausting, some find it exhilarating, others find it intimidating. Others know they will gain from it; some fear they will lose from it. Everyone who has made a contribution to this industry has at some time experienced what it was like to be an outsider with a big dream facing long odds. The only way to get in is to make something better, faster or more valuable.

"The challenge we now face is how to think like outsiders after were insiders. The minute you start defending the way things are instead of improving them, you have lost that which got you where you are in the first place," she said.

As both Compaq and HP believe in standards-based platforms and technologies, the merged company would be far more powerful in marching the open platform forward and contributing to the development community while helping improve Linuxs role in the business world, she said.

In praise of open source

Fiorina also used her keynote to praise the open-source movement and its developers, saying that the inventive spirit that fueled the open-source movement knew no limits and, as such, Linux has become an undeniable force. "A decade ago this conference could not have happened," she said.

"Linux is the democratization of the innovation of the open-source movement. This is the breakout year for Linux, which will solidify its place in the enterprise this year. Gartner has said Linux will grow by 15 percent in 2002 despite the current economic conditions," Fiorina said.

Linux is also having an enormous influence on consumer electronics, which is an important milestone in the mainstreaming of Linux. Linuxs presence in the enterprise has also risen significantly over the past year, and the number of applications have grown.

Fiorina also presented attendees with a range of corporate user testimonials, including one from Charlie Bell, vice president of IT infrastructure at Amazon, said his company has moved to Linux to meet its cost objectives. Its entire infrastructure had to be converted in three months -- all the way from the high-end transactional database to the low end, he said.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the co-founders of DreamWorks, said Linux and HP helped the company achieve its creative ambitions, while helping to shorten production schedules and reduce costs.

"They are not supporting Linux because it is popular, but because it met their needs," Fiorina said, adding that the deal with DreamWorks was similar to the technology that snared HPs first customer.

Showing attendees the audio oscillator developed by Bill Hewlett more than 60 years ago, Fiorina said the device, then named HP Model 200A, had attracted a group of engineers at Walt Disney Co. who wanted a new audio experience for a movie they were working on. That film was "Fantasia," and Disney became HPs first customer, she added.

$10 billion business

Linux is now transforming the digital entertainment space, after already establishing itself in areas like Web serving, file and print serving, and single applications. "Research firm Giga estimates that 30 percent of servers shipped are now running Linux, which has become a $10 billion industry," Fiorina said.

As 2001 came to a close, there was market consolidation, and some Linux startups had failed. Customers were also feeling the pinch and looking to maximize their IT dollars, with those in the enterprise looking to Linux for its value.

Making light of the issue as to whether Linux threatened Microsoft or vice versa, Fiorina said that although the industry always likes a good dog fight, "boy, do I know," she quipped, "the reality is that Microsoft solutions on industry-standard hardware is a mainstay, particularly on the desktop, and will continue to stay so.

"But Linux is making inroads and headway. The question is not whether Linux will dominate the world, but rather what part of the world it will dominate," she said.

Detailing her top priority list for Linux, Fiorina said it needs to continue the gains already made to address ease of use and management; the Linux Standards Base has to continue to be promoted; and the royalty-free standards issue need to be resolved.