As the open-source and Linux faithful flock to Boston for the annual East Coast LinuxWorld Conference this week, they are going to be met with news that Novell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. both plan to announce the open-sourcing of some new technology at the event.
Novell, which has embraced Linux across all its product lines, will announce this week that it has contributed some of its eDirectory developer interfaces to open source, allowing third-party applications to leverage eDirectory passwords for secure authentication.
For its part, HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., will use the show to announce that its HP Labs, in conjunction with the Cambridge University Computer Labs Xen team in England, will give the developer community some of the code from its ongoing work to support the creation of an open-source platform for virtualization. HPs work with Xen technology focuses on management, security and control of virtual machines.
HPs code will be released under the GNU GPL (General Public License) and include technology to group virtual servers into secure virtual subnets across a WAN environment.
“As the technology matures, HP will leverage the results of this research into its commercial offerings, such as HP Virtual Machine Management Pack, which provides central management and control of virtual machines,” said Martin Fink, HPs vice president of Linux.
Novell, of Provo, Utah, is contributing portions of the eDirectory code to the FreeRADIUS and Samba open-source projects, also under the GPL. The goal is to allow any open-source developer to tap Novells identity management infrastructure and use eDirectory as their authentication engine, said Tim Harris, Novells eDirectory product manager.
“The code that we are contributing is specifically designed to leverage some previously undocumented APIs in Novells existing eDirectory product in the security space. Open-source and third-party vendors have until now been unable to integrate with eDirectory and to directly leverage these APIs as they were not published,” he said.
Novell has been looking for a RADIUS solution in open source to provide a wireless authentication solution for customers using its eDirectory.
In researching the existing open-source solutions, FreeRADIUS “popped to the top of the list as the best implementation from a technical perspective. So we worked with the maintainer there to provide integration with eDirectory, we wrote the patches, and we contributed the code back to the FreeRADIUS project,” Harris said.
Alan DeKok, the project leader for FreeRADIUS, said LDAP provided an effective interface for many directory-enabled applications and now, with Novells contribution, applications and devices that were built on RADIUS have the option of providing secure authentication using eDirectory.
Samba is having similar technical problems integrating with RADIUS, and so the Samba group asked for the same code, Harris said. There are protocols in FreeRADIUS and Samba that need to interact directly with the user credentials in eDirectory to function properly. Novell weighed whether to publish these APIs or build a proprietary solution that interfaced with those solutions.
Jeremy Allison, Sambas co-author, of San Jose, Calif., welcomes the move, saying it allows Samba to integrate secure, single-sign-on authentication for Windows clients using Samba Domain Controllers with eDirectory. CIFS and SMB clients can now share integrated authentication in the customer enterprise environment, he said.
“We want to be a good player and advocate in the open-source community in terms of making our software accessible, and so we undertook a rigorous security review of the code being opened up and some modifications were made, with some additional rules and safeguards added into the code to make sure security wasnt compromised by publishing this code,” Harris said.
As this technology is accessed via an LDAP extension, other projects like OpenLDAP can take and use its technology contributions to provide a secure method of interoperating with user credentials within that project. “We are basically raising the bar from a security perspective and making sure that credentials that are being leveraged are done in a secure way and always over a secure tunnel,” he said.
For its part, IBM plans to ratchet up its Solaris-to-Linux and Windows-to-Linux customer migration plans, which officials say are working well.
Recent research from Gartner Group Inc. showed some $1.3 billion in total Linux server sales, with the growth rate underneath that at 56 percent for Linux compared with the entire server market rate at 6 percent, IBMs Linux vice president Scott Handy, IBMs vice president for Linux, in Somers, N.Y., told eWEEK.
“Within that, IBM has 37 percent share of the total, and we took Linux share from both HP and Dell [Inc.] on the Linux x86 front last year. We also have Linux on the mainframe and Linux on Power, and in 2004 some 40 percent of our Linux server revenue was from Linux non-x86. So we are delivering on the cross-platform nature of Linux, and our customers are buying into that,” he said.
Sun Microsystems Inc., which is fighting Linux, is wrestling with the fact that customers want Unix reliability at Intel Corp. and x86 price points and tried to address that with its Solaris x86 but had only a 1 percent share of the x86 market. “Thats not a good business proposition from an ISV equation, given the opportunity to port to Linux on x86,” said Handy.
Big Blue is refreshing its porting guide from Solaris to Linux to reflect its thoughts about why Linux is a better business choice than Suns recently released Solaris 10 operating system.
IBM is working with ISVs to train them on Solaris-to-Linux migrations. The companys also doing “some things with Red Hat [Inc.] to provide additional information, since they are being specifically targeted by Sun as well as new customer offerings and events,” Handy said.
The strategy seems to be working. First National Bank of Omaha recently chose IBM to consolidate and simplify the banks core operations, consolidating 30 Sun servers and EMC Corp. storage onto IBMs eServer zSeries 990 mainframe.
Kenneth Kucera, a senior vice president at the bank, said the consolidation allowed the bank “to only have to maintain a handful of servers … making the task much less complex and expensive. Fewer servers also means fewer network connections to safeguard, which helps us provide network security at a lower cost.”
IBM has added 2,500 new applications to its Linux portfolio in 2004, bringing the total to 6,000, a number it plans to double by the end of 2007. “Frankly, from an ecosystem point of view, there is no room for a third alternative on x86,” he said. “You have Windows, the incumbent and Linux, which is growing strongly. There is just no room for a high-volume third price x86 player. There never is. Its too little, too late, unrealistic. The trend toward Linux is unstoppable.”
But Sun officials disagree and accuse IBM of deliberately trying to slow down the adoption of Solaris on x86. Larry Singer, vice president of Suns Global Information Systems Strategy Office, in Santa Clara, Calif., recently told eWEEK that IBMs decision not to test, certify and support its enterprise software applications on Solaris 10 for x86 platforms “smacks of monopolistic behavior.”
Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.