February 24, 2004

Wind River, Red Hat join forces for new embedded Linux product

Author: Jackie Lightfield

Wind River Systems and Red Hat on Monday announced a partnership to create a new Linux-based distribution for the embedded application market. The new Red Hat Embedded Linux will be based on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 code base. Neither company would confirm an expected release date.

Red Hat Embedded Linux initially will be marketed toward developers of commercial off-the-shelf device software for carrier-grade network equipment, such as high-end routers and switches, according to Red Hat spokesperson Leigh Day. "Red Hat was interested in the high-end network market because Linux plays really well in that market," Day said.

Day said this partnership is an extension of Red Hat's Open Source Architecture strategy. From Red Hat's perspective, Wind River's client list, a veritable Who's Who of major players in telecom, consumer electronics, automotive, aerospace, and network infrastructure, is a highly desirable channel to sell into.

Wind River's decision to partner with Red Hat was based on experience with its current clients. "Our customers are looking at and asking us about Linux," said Michel Genard, senior director of platform marketing for Wind River. "Red Hat has been successful delivering a standard, mainstream packaged distribution for years. Our customers were already downloading Linux distributions that were not standardized and could fork from the mainstream. Different package bundles on different computers at the enterprise level is a nightmare. Our customers were looking for a stable solution and not wanting to deal with constant patches. This was the best team to bring this all together."

"Red Hat's alliance with Wind River will bring open standards to the embedded device market," said Red Hat President/CEO Matthew Szulik.

"Previous attempts at creating a commercial Linux distribution for device software have resulted in a fragmented marketplace that still lacks a standard set of tools and reliable products," said Bill Claybrook, vice president of Linux strategy at Harvard Research Group. "The partnership provides the complete package -- technology, support and expertise -- that will enable Linux to become firmly established as a viable and standardized option for device development."

Wind River has a 20-year track record with products such as its proprietary DSO (device software optimization) platform for the embedded software market. DSO technology is marketed under the brand VxWorks. In the last 20 years, more than 300 million devices have been deployed with Wind River's technology platform, Genard said.

Genard said potential clients include IBM and Nortel. While not specifically targeted to other markets initially, Genard hoped that "eventually we can offer Linux in other spaces with other footprints because out intention is to share the same technology."

The product that comes out of this partnership will be sold only through the Wind River global sales and support channel as a Wind River product. However, the engineering team, made up of developers from both companies, will be based at the Westford, Mass., Red Hat offices.

Separately, Wind River announced Monday that that it is releasing VxWorks 6.0, which introduces Linux compatibility.

The Alameda, Calif.-based company Monday reported fourth-quarter net income at $1.44 million, or 2 cents per share, compared with a loss of $37.5 million, or 47 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 12 percent to $55.6 million.

For its fiscal first quarter, Wind River expects a net loss of 5 cents to 7 cents a share, a loss before items of 3 cents to 5 cents a share, and revenue of $49 million to $51 million.


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