- By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols -
So where is Caldera going with its older operating systems? Linux may
be all fine and dandy, but the fate of OpenServer is what the people
at the DTR Business Systems reseller
show in Las Vegas earlier this month wanted to know, and Caldera's CEO
Ransom Love was there to give them answers.
The DTR resellers -- for the most part old line Intel Unix resellers
and integrators working in vertical markets such as bookstores,
clothing manufacturers and the oil trade -- were pleased to hear that
Caldera will not put the older Unix
OpenServer out to pasture after years of neglect from former
owner SCO. In the past, SCO tried to move OpenServer users and
resellers to UnixWare -- now OpenUnix -- but
they simply wouldn't budge.
Why not? Because, as Rene Beltran, vice
president of sales for DTR, says: "OpenServer already does everything
the customers want." DTR, a value-added reseller that works with
resellers, integrators and customers, still sells 20 times the copies of the older OpenServer operating system as OpenUnix copies, he says.
It's not just DTR. According to Dan Kusnetzky, IDC's vice president
for system software research, OpenServer has a much larger market
share than the often touted, but it would seem seldom deployed,
Indeed, the resellers see their OpenServer market getting bigger. As
Microsoft's support for NT diminishes the resellers see this as an
opportunity to move Linux -- not Unix -- in. Because of the name
recognition, though, when do they manage to find someone who wants
Linux, they're finding it much easier to move Red Hat than Caldera.
They're also seeing a fair amount of demand for W2K. Customers invite them in
and ask for W2K by name.
Many of the resellers are reluctant to do sell Windows, though, because their expertise is
in Unix. They're also finding sticker shock with some customers as
the customer begins to understand what W2K's higher client access
license (CAL) costs mean to their bottom line.
Most of these resellers also have had bad experiences with
Microsoft's quality and security, and they know full well that when
something goes wrong, they, not Microsoft, will be the ones called on
the carpet. Thanks to OpenServer's incredibly high level of stability
and plentiful small business applications, many of them would rather sell
OpenServer over any other OS any day of the week.
OpenUnix, the former UnixWare, remains unpopular. This dates
back to the SCO's days of the late '90s when, from the resellers' perspective,
SCO tried to force them and their customers to move from OpenServer
to UnixWare. This then new operating system cost more, would require
many programs to be ported at their cost, and didn't offer any
worthwhile advantages. To them OpenServer is still the operating
system of choice, if Caldera supports it.
Love has answered many of their concerns by assuring the group that
OpenServer will continue to be supported and that OpenUnix would get
an OpenServer Kernel Personality, which would enable them first to
move their existing applications to OpenUnix and, in 2003, to
Caldera will continue updating OpenServer with driver updates and a
refresh of the operating system, in the third quarter of 2002, that
will bring OpenServer up to version 5.0.7.
At about the same time, to make OpenUnix more attractive, Caldera
will be adding an OpenServer Kernel Personality to OpenUnix. This
will enable users to run OpenServer programs on OpenUnix come the day
that they need OpenUnix's much more powerful database infrastructure
and or need up to eight-way processing power. Caldera hopes that
OpenServer users who want server-consolidation will then use this as
an upgrade path.
Even after this, however, Caldera doesn't plan on giving OpenServer a
gold watch on the way out the door. In 2003, if there continues to be
a demand for it, Caldera will bring a Linux Kernel Personality to
OpenServer. With the LKP, users will be able to run Linux programs on
Caldera will also continue to upgrade its Linux operating system,
3.1.2 due out in the third quarter.
Looking ahead, Love says on all three operating systems, there will
be more frequent feature patches rather than frequent periodical
major releases. Love added, "Users and resellers don't want major
releases, because installing them is too expensive, and they cause
Caldera will also strive to make "it easier to switch between the
operating systems, thus enabling administrators to mix and match.
This will also make it easier to migrate between environments and
How can Caldera afford to support three operating systems? Love
explained that because OpenServer and OpenUnix are already stable,
they don't require a tremendous amount of development work. Instead,
most of the development dollars are focused on Linux.
Eventually, Caldera thinks Linux will win out. OpenLinux alone is
making the jump
to the IA-64 architecture.
But, as Love says, while it's possible that "Linux may replace Unix,
we see Unix and Linux as compatible. We don't see, as Red Hat does,
one replacing the other."
Love also made it clear that Caldera will not be following Red Hat to the enterprise space. Instead, Caldera
concentrate on selling to small- to medium-sized businesses and
offices through its reseller channel. As Love says, "The solution
provider is our customer, not the end user."