-By Grant Gross -
Monday's GeoForum for resellers was dedicated to changing Caldera's name to The SCO Group and re-emphasizing SCO's Unix brands, but Tuesday morning started with SCO talking up the Linux side of its business.
The morning began with a 75-minute panel discussion about SCO's partnership in the UnitedLinux coalition, featuring SCO's UnitedLinux board member Andy Nagle and representatives of Intel, HP, IBM and Computer Associates talking about how cool UnitedLinux is. Although former Caldera/SCO CEO Ransom Love is supposed to be working on UnitedLinux for SCO, he wasn't in Las Vegas for the GeoForum, and PR reps said he's thinking about what to do next. He may be considered for the open general manager position, Nagle told the reseller crowd. UnitedLinux is still actively looking for a general manager.
Before the panel, Jeff Hunsaker, general manager and v.p. of SCO's Americas business, emphasized SCO's Linux commitment, after apparently reading some questions in the Linux press following Monday's SCO announcements. "We are 100% committed to our Linux initiatives, period," he said. "We are a Unix and a Linux company."
The panel fielded several questions about UnitedLinux from the reseller audience, including the possibility of a desktop product. Nagle said it's up to each of the four UnitedLinux partners to come up with its own desktop products, but he and other SCO officials said they haven't ruled out a new desktop-focused Linux OS.
SCO officials also said they don't plan to completely abandon the Linux-focused Caldera brand, although they're not sure what they'll do with it yet.
Robert Cole, of Linux education company Questnet, asked if there's ISV pressure for Red Hat to join the UnitedLinux initiative. Al Burstiner, Computer Associates' divisional v.p. for strategic business alliances, said his company is happy right now to have to support only two major Linux distributions instead of four or five.
SCO's Nagle said UnitedLinux representatives met with Red Hat people at LinuxWorld in San Francisco earlier this month, and "we committed to each other to keep the door open for future conversations." In simple terms, they agreed that they might want to meet again, but the timing isn't right for greater cooperation right now.
"I think as momentum for UnitedLinux builds ... it's going to be harder and harder to avoid saying, 'Why not,'" Nagle said of Red Hat joining the UnitedLinux group.
The resellers seemed to be comfortable with SCO's level of Linux involvement. Nearly half of the 400 resellers in the room raised their hands when asked if they'd already implemented a Linux solution for customers. And Cole, who questioned HP's Judy Chavis Monday when she said the timing wasn't right for her company to push Linux on the desktop, said he's comfortable with SCO's new direction, including the emphasis on Unix products OpenServer and UnixWare.
Cole, who encourages his customers to use Linux on the desktop, said he's questioned the old Caldera's lack of action on its Linux brand during the past year, but he said the relative quiet makes sense now, in light of Caldera's rebranding as the still-familiar SCO name. "I think this commitment is going to help the Linux product because of the name," Cole said. "I think SCO Linux will be easier to sell."
Notes from the SCO GeoForum:
SCO had a mini vendor fair featuring about 16 companies, open during the reseller show. Among the companies were some names you'd expect, including Borland, IBM, Netraverse and EBIZ Enterprises, which was giving away stuffed penguins.
Also there were a couple of smaller companies including Rasmassen Software, selling a print wizard and advertising Telnet for Windows; Faximum, which said it's fax software is now available for Linux; Progress Software; Microlite and Lone Star Software. The last two were both pitching server backup products for Linux and Unix.
HP, as the premium sponsor of the GeoForum, had the largest booth at the vendor fair. The HP booth included Compaq laptops hooked up to the Internet, where you could check your email. The machines were running ... Windows XP.
SCO's press room also had a couple of laptops running Windows, much to the chagrin of some of the Linux press, but they were rented machines. Outside the vendor fair, SCO had IBM workstations set up in an email farm, and they were running SCO Linux.
What tech recession? SCO gave the press and analysts first-class treatment in Las Vegas. The guests stayed at the swanky MGM Grand hotel (albeit at off-season rates), and SCO took the press and analysts out to dinner at a fancy restaurant Monday night. SCO even had a box of chocolates and other sweets delivered to the reporters' and analysts' rooms. My girlfriend's reaction: "Can they afford it?"
The junket seems to have brought SCO some benefits. Its stock price went from 1.98 at last Friday's closing to over 2.50 Monday, and the company received a ton of press from its captive audience this week. For a company looking to raise its profile, maybe this royal treatment was the right strategy, even if the press wasn't all positive.