Linuxs Supporting Cast Grows

As new products are rolled out, IT managers weigh their next step.

Some large enterprises are putting broad Linux deployments on hold until the next version of the kernel, 2.6, is released with improved clustering and scalability. But thats not stopping top-tier vendors from rolling out new products to ease deployments.

While some IT managers welcomed news of Linux deployment developments from IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. and The SCO Group last week at LinuxWorld here, others said they plan to wait for 2.6, due later this year.

Thats because Version 2.6 promises to bring scalability, memory and clustering enhancements—all advances that can shore up Linux to be as robust as the best Unix, said advocates of the open-source platform.

One such enterprise customer is Colin Hope-Murray, chief technology officer of multinational conglomerate Unilever N.V.s Global Infrastructure Organization.

"There are several critical features and functionality [in the Linux 2.6 kernel] we are waiting for, like a locking mechanism and multithreaded I/O, which will enable us to take the next quantum step and move into the data center," said Hope-Murray, in Shelton, Conn.

The 2.6 kernels release would be the catalyst that Unilever has been waiting for to move its data center applications onto Linux. "We are not waiting to see what happens with [Microsoft Corp.s] .Net strategy. We are looking for Linux to be the enterprise operating system of choice," Hope-Murray said.

But Michael Tiemann, CTO of Red Hat Inc., in Raleigh, N.C., does not believe users need to wait for the 2.6 kernel.

"A lot of the innovations that are in the 2.5 development tree have already been back-ported to the 2.4 kernel and are already in Red Hat Advanced Server," Tiemann said. "A number of our clients are already migrating and deploying today, as the cost of continuing to use what they have and waiting for the next kernel is more expensive than upgrading."

IBM, HP and The SCO Group agree. Each company announced products at LinuxWorld here last week that they say will ease Linux deployments and push the operating system further into the enterprise.

IBM introduced a series of packages of Linux-based technology that will come preconfigured with a range of the companys high-end servers. The integrated packages for the systems will be available Feb. 28 and ship as options with the Armonk, N.Y., companys massive z800 and z900 mainframes, as well as with its S/390 parallel enterprise servers, the G/5 and G/6, and the S/390 Multiprise 3000.

The software will include the WebSphere application server; IBM Directory Server; SuSE Linux AGs Enterprise Server; and z/VM, a virtualization technology that allows for servers to be carved up into separate virtual servers.

For its part, HP introduced its Serviceguard for Linux ProLiant Cluster, an integrated package of cluster applications and management tools for the Palo Alto, Calif., companys storage systems and ProLiant servers.

Separately, The SCO Group is working on a software platform, known as SCOx, that it hopes will drive the next generation of applications on the network and the server across both Unix and Linux.

SCOx, which will be rolled out in the next few months, will bring server-based solutions and the Internet together seamlessly for the Lindon, Utah, companys core customer segments—the replicated site customer and the small-to-medium-size business, said CEO Darl McBride.

"At the end of the day, were not going to care whether youre running it on Unix or Linux because we already have an application programming interface superset that binds them together from an application standpoint," McBride said.

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