Linux Vendors Play Windows Tune

Instead of trying to replace Windows in the enterprise, Linux supporters look to coexist.

Some of the largest proponents of Linux have realized that partners and customers dont want to replace all their existing Windows server software with open-source server software. Rather, they want them to coexist.

That message will be delivered by the likes of IBM, Novell and Hewlett-Packard at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in Boston April 3-6. All three are launching products that will make it easier to introduce Linux in Windows environments.

"What we have heard loud and clear from our business partners is that they do not want to stop doing Windows business but rather want a way to add Linux as an incremental opportunity," said Scott Handy, IBMs vice president for Linux and open source, in Somers, N.Y.

Indeed, Yankee Group, a Boston-based consultancy, found in a recent survey that nearly two-thirds of businesses that run Windows as their primary server operating system also had Linux installed in their organizations. Yankee Group concluded that mainstream Linux deployments were on a steep upward trajectory but would not replace Windows. As a result, coexistence is the order of the day.

So IBM, along with partners Avnet and Novell—which also have realized that trying to migrate users off Windows might not be realistic—have developed products that allow users to install Linux servers in a Windows environment.

"This is, for us, all part of a great Linux play in a Windows server environment that we think is far more consistent with what the market is doing than a typical migration approach, like our Solaris-to-Windows program. This is a totally different approach," Handy said.

Helping complete the picture are applications such as Centeris Centeris Likewise, which allows both Windows and Linux servers to be administered from a Windows systems administrator console, Handy said. "So, you can now install Linux servers in a Windows environment, and the system administrators do not need to have any training and can add and administer these as if they were Windows servers," he said.

This nondisruptive approach is a very attractive alternative to, say, the Solaris-to-Linux migration, which system administrators needed a lengthy manual to follow. "This will be of interest to many enterprises who want to deploy Linux servers without having to train their staff until they want to," Handy said.

As such, IBM, Novell and Avnet have developed several integrated stack offerings targeting partners, the channel and customers. All the offerings will be available in April.

One of these, Integrated Stack for Linux, consists of Novells SUSE Linux and IBM servers and includes IBMs WebSphere Application Server Community Edition and DB2 Express-C.

The stack, which initially will be available through Avnets partner channel, provides a fully integrated platform of Web and database middleware, the Linux operating system and IBM xSeries eServers. As an option, Avnet will preload Centeris Likewise for Active Directory integration and management.

Another offering, Integrated File and Print Serving for Linux, will be offered by Avnet to its resellers with Linux and Centeris Likewise for file-and-print workloads. "With this solution, [users] can easily integrate Novell SUSE Linux into a Windows environment, including Active Directory integration on IBM xSeries eServers," Handy said.

A free offering, the IBM Integrated Linux Stack Discovery DVD, includes WebSphere Application Server Community Edition, DB2 Express-C and a demo-only version of VMware Player hosting Novells SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server) 9 capable of executing the entire Integrated Linux stack.

No-license-fee versions of WebSphere Application Server Community Edition and DB2 Express-C also can be installed on Windows servers to enhance integration into a Windows environment, Handy said.

HP is moving in the same direction. The company will announce at LinuxWorld an integrated portfolio of hardware, software and services designed to simplify the integration of open-source and commercial technologies.

HPs Open Source Integrated Portfolio includes new HP open-source middleware stacks and gives customers a way to deploy a range of open-source, commercial and hybrid applications across Linux, HP-UX 11i and Windows environments.

"Theres a growing demand for integrated open-source and commercial solutions on multiple operating systems, and customers want one trusted source of accountability," said Christine Martino, vice president of HPs open-source and Linux organization, in Palo Alto, Calif. "The HP Open Source Integrated Portfolio is an important step as companies increasingly make open source part of their overall strategy to be more adaptive in the marketplace."

Al Gillen, an analyst with IDC, of Framingham, Mass., said the move extends the breadth of HPs open-source solutions and delivers a key building block for todays IT customers.

Big Blues LinuxWorld news

* IBM and Novell introduce new open middleware offerings on Linux for SMBs (small and midsize businesses)

* IBM upgrades WebSphere Application Server Community Edition

* Lotus expands its business partner ecosystem for IBM Workplace software for Linux

* IBM and Red Hat earn higher Linux Security Certification

Source: eWEEK reporting