December 17, 2001

Internet World has (some) Linux: An aisle-stroller's sampling of vendors

Author: JT Smith

- By Daniel P. Dern -

I strolled the exhibit aisles at

Penton Media's Internet World/Fall 2001
New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center last week -- the show didn't fill up the main floor despite being co-located with Penton's Streaming Media East 2001 and StorageNext 2001 events. While there, I decided to troll for companies making
use of Linux, BSD, or other non-Microsoft platforms, and, by extension, some companies that have put Linux to work by buying these products and services.

Given the nature of the events, which include companies providing
high-end network/networking equipment and services, it's hardly surprising that I was able to turn up some examples of Linux being put to work. Here's what I found. Please note, this in no way purports to be an exhaustive list or survey; I simply
asked a number of likely-looking candidates -- odds are there were more.

Surgient Networks

Surgient's EQ2500 convergence platforms
for computing, storage and networking are running Red Hat Linux. The devices are intended for input/output-intensive applications such as Web serving, streaming apps, caching, and middleware and storage virtualization.

Surgient went with Linux for "the openness of the OS," the ability to see the source and customize it, says a company representative. "The core stays the same but we add drivers."

Surgient customers are currently in beta, so the company wouldn't name names at this time. but its target markets include large content service providers, and large enterprises.


FileFish's SEA (Storage Environment Aggregation) Server is software that aggregates data from multiple, heterogeneous storage systems (including Windows and Unix file servers, NAS, SANS, and desktops),
into a single meta-file system, providing Web accessibility to data,
including from Blackberry pagers and Palm handhelds as well as PCs.

FileFish's SEA software currently runs on Red Hat Linux. Why Linux?
"Because our prospective initial users were already using Linux,
so they wanted something that ran it. So we're starting with that
first," says Gary Kapner, senior director of sales, who notes that FileFish
sells software. The customer has to provide the hardware, including the
OS environment. "And supporting Linux is conducive to our road map."

FileFish is planning to add support for Windows and Solaris in the future.

A start-up, FileFish is still recruiting its "early access partners," in other words, beta testers. Target users include financial institutions, insurance companies,
legal and high-tech companies, and professional services organizations --
companies with lots of data and lots of remote/mobile professional users
seeking to access it.


SysMaster is running its own stripped-down distro of Linux for its Network Management Platform family of network management appliances, which does things like load balancing and firewalling, and is intended for small- and medium-sized companies up through ISPs, large-scale enterprises, and data centers.

"We liked the idea of using Linux because of its availability and scalability," says a SysMaster spokesperson. "Our product is based on tools we've been using internally for several years." The company is European-owned, and most of the developers are there.

Linux NetworX Inc.

Linux NetworX specializes in clustering solutions for high-performance/availability, and the company was showing its ICE Box 1500 cluster management appliance, which lets administrators locally and remotely monitor node and environmental conditions and control notes.

"We use a modified version of Red Hat, which we optimize for clustering,"
says a company spokesperson.

Linux NetworX's customer list alone should end any question or debate as to whether Linux is being used by real companies for real work. The company created the world's first commercial Linux cluster, for Brookhaven National Labs; other customers include Boeing, Compaq, Dow Chemical USA, Lockheed Martin, Los Alamos National Labs, Sandia National, and the U.S. National Security Agency, as well as ISPs, ASPs, Web hosting centers, and companies doing molecular and chemical modeling, fluid dynamics, and seismic research.

Network Engines

Network Engines provides the hardware and software for "high-density, scalable appliance server and storage platforms."

Rick Cricenti, director of sales operations, estimates that
about 40% of the systems the company delivers are running Linux.
Other OSes customers run include Windows 2000, Windows NT, FreeBSD, and Solaris.

Customers using Network Engines' products include Open, Geodetics, Access Orlando, Picture IQ, and Previo.

I've no doubt there were many more vendors there
also making use of Linux and other Open Source OSes and tools, especially given
that Compaq and IBM were among the exhibitors. There was also one network
appliance vendor who had done its own operating system -- proprietary, not
Open Source. Go figure. And even one entertainment appliance running Windows CE.
In any case, if there are any doubters still out there who don't think Linux
is being put to serious use by companies needing high availability and scalability,
just point them back here.

Daniel P. Dern is a freelance technology writer. Most recently he was executive editor of His Web site


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