by Signal 11
Will SCO be contributing / open-sourcing any technology and/or patents that it holds as part of its Linux adoption effort?
Also, did your market research pan out - is Linux really being used in large businesses or is it still primarily used by small startup companies strapped for cash?
SCO is accelerating its participation in, and contributions to, the Open Source Community. In some cases, we will be taking current technology that we think is needed in the Linux market and driving it forward as the project maintainers. Right now, we are focusing on bringing some of our high-performance Intel development tools to Linux.
In other cases, we will make some sources available as reference documents, without a specific intention of driving them forward as projects. For instance, we think there is an interest in seeing the source to lex and yacc under an Open Source license -- but as flex and bison are already active projects, we see no value in our making a competitive investment. Someone else would be welcome to pick them up, if they saw a need.
There is no doubt that the low cost of Linux is a factor in creating new market demand. There is a solid interest among larger companies who want to take advantage of the Linux momentum. In general, larger businesses are less sensitive to price as a primary factor in deploying an OS. These businesses are more interested in criteria like reliability, availability, and scalability.
One of the reasons that SCO operating systems have been so popular is that there are a lot of applications (Tetra, Informix, etc.) that run on them. These are used very widely (particularly in manufacturing industry in my experience)
As you seem to be embracing open source, will you be encouraging the suppliers of this software to port their applications to open source operating systems?
And how will you sell the idea of open source to the traditionally conservative manufacturing sector?
ISVs port applications where they see opportunity and market demand. ISVs also appreciate robust support and encouragement from the platform before they invest in a port. Linux is experiencing tremendous momentum and attracting ISVs who have never ported applications to SCO Unix platforms. To leverage this activity, SCO is currently developing better Linux binary compatibility for our existing Unix platforms.
SCO concentrates on offering choice. Customers want solutions, and we want to be in a position to give them the broadest range of options. If the solution includes Open Source components, SCO will be in a position to support it.
Linux as the next SCO Unix?
What does your future roadmap for SCO Unix look like? - Are you going the SGI path and gradually phasing out your own Unix in favor of Linux, or are you pursuing a parallel development path of both OSs? What features currently in SCO that are not in Linux do you feel are necessary for wider corporate acceptance of Linux?
Our formal product roadmap is undergoing a complete overhaul. When we begin to outline our OS deliverables for the next 18 months, you will see that UnixWare 7 and SCO OpenServer 5 will continue moving ahead. Look forward to new developments as well.
Enterprises building their businesses on a server platform are interested in reliability and availability. Although we believe in a high degree of reliability that comes from the level of code inspection provided by the Open Source Community, we feel it needs to be quantified with benchmarking statistics like MTBSS. This opens a number of possible further improvements -- journalizing file systems, support for hot-plug PCI, multi-path I/O -- things that make is easier to never bring the system down, or to recover the system more quickly.
How will SCO Survive?
According to the principles of Open Source software development described in The Cathedral and the Bazaar (amongst others), for each "class" of software where there exists significant community interest, the Open Source version of the software will at first lag behind its Closed Source counterpart (in terms of features, reliability, etc) but as time progresses, the Open Source software will eventually surpass the Closed Source software.
Once this happens, there's no looking back - the Open Source software has far more developers and debuggers working on the project than even the richest and largest Closed Source software house could ever hope to employ.
If one could somehow graph "quality" of a given software project, one would see that Closed Source software increases linearly, whereas Open Source increases exponentially.
Given that the Linux "quality and features" line is either close to or already across the SCO Unix "quality and features" line, and given that SCO Unix and Linux compete in the same ecological niche, there is really very little reason to put further effort into developing/supporting SCO Unix - Linux has (or is about to) "win" and once "won", SCO Unix will never be able to make up the lost ground.
How then does SCO plan on surviving as a corporate entity when their primary product is outclassed by an Open Source, "free beer" version of the same thing?
(This isn't a borderline troll, I am genuinely curious how SCO intends to survive. They are perhaps the first "major" single-product company to butt heads with a mature Open Source project. How they handle the situation may predict what will happen to other such companies when their single product encounters a similarly mature Open Source version of the same thing - perhaps Adobe (Gimp) in a couple of years?)
Eric Raymond's analysis is incisive and compelling, but I don't think all the votes are in. Products are more than the sum of their technologies - they involve a network of relationships with resellers, ISVs, and customers.
We believe that proprietary software will continue to thrive and interact with the Open Source Movement. At the same time, we are structuring our business in such a way that will allow us to participate in many of the still developing Open Source business models. Tarantella for Linux and our Linux Professional Services offerings are just two examples of this. We are also looking to develop more proprietary technologies, called serverware, that can be deployed one level up from the operating system. You will see us produce more serverware products that are designed for multiple Linux and Unix platforms in the near future.
Monterey and Linux
As most people know, SCO is working with IBM and Sequent (which IIRC IBM bought a while back) to develop a new 64 bit Unix. How will these two OSes work together on your systems? Are you planning on using Linux only on low-end machines, while Monterey runs on IA-64, or will Linux be a "stopgap OS" to run on your systems until Monterey is finished?
Monterey and Linux-64 will be an important platform for the Itanium market. Both are expected to be available in the same time frame. Customers demand that Monterey have the ability to run Linux applications. This will be an important area of interoperability that we will stress with the Monterey product line.
SCO & Linux: Past vs. Present Opinions
by Jon Trowbridge
In the past, SCO and its representatives has made a number of statements about Linux (and free software in general) that many of us saw as FUD. In the most infamous example, these statements included:
"Linux at this moment can be considered more a play thing for IT students rather than a serious operating system..."
"The future of Linux is very uncertain... As there are such a large number of developers it is virtually impossible to predict what form Linux will take thus putting the future security of your business at risk."
"Currently there are over forty distributions of Linux... and as a result there is no single standard. Potentially, this means that software written for one system will not work on another."
Statements like these damaged SCO's credibility among the community that it now appears to be trying to embrace.
Do you/SCO still stand by these statements and opinions? If not, what changed your mind? Do you still assert that these statements were true when they were being made by SCO representatives --- or, in retrospect, do you admit that it was not accurate, but was just marketing FUD?
Our view of Linux has evolved and we no longer stand by the one-dimensional stereotypes made in the past. We made mistakes - one-sided characterizations of Linux - and these statements are no longer operative. We know that Linux is here to stay.
However, we are not ready to flip to the view that sees Linux as the be-all, end-all of operating system software. When making comparisons between Unix and Linux platforms, there are still meaningful and significant areas where Linux falls short. We see ourselves as being in a position to help address these areas.
With our investments throughout the Linux Community, we care about the success of the Linux market more than ever. This being the case, we are very concerned about fragmentation. This is why we stand whole-heartedly behind the Linux Standard Base.
What does "Linux" mean?
In the eyes of Caldera, it is a proprietary system with no proprietor, an open closed system closed system with a bottom-up top-down design.(Escher would have been proud!) In the eyes of SGI and IBM, it seems to be a way to showcase their technology and get free bug-fixes in the deal. To Red Hat, it's a means to sell support. To VA Linux, it becomes a means to sell cheaper, faster hardware, especially in the embedded and server markets.
What, then, is Linux to SCO?
First, it's a marketplace for us to sell our Linux Professional Services. There is a great demand for companies that have no idea how to add the power of Linux to their complex computing environments.
Second, a platform for Tarantella and other potential serverware products.
Further, it's an opportunity to enter new markets with our existing Unix platforms and future Linux-based products.
I have been a long-time user and reseller of SCO products. One of my big concerns is the high cost of SCO Unix for a small installation. Small in this case is a single machine in an office network environment with a few machines networked to the system.
Considering that a good Linux installation is either free or less than $150, will the movement of SCO into the Open Source arena mean that the price of the O/S will drop? How will the new marketplace affect the price of SCO's products?
It's clear that Linux will introduce changes into the pricing equation, especially in the SMB market. The details remain to be seen. SCO is committed to its resellers and recognizes that they are being challenged to adapt to some of the new terms of this marketplace. SCO will have products that speak to all levels of the market at prices that compete on the terms of the particular market.