Enterprise Linux Log

March 28, 2008  1:53 PM

Red Hat growth reflects growing open source adoption

Don Rosenburg Profile: Dkr

This blog post was written by Pam Derringer, SearchEnterpriseLinux.com’s news writer.

Red Hat Inc.’s enviable earnings boost for 2007 is a clear reflection of the market’s growing confidence in open source software, according to Stephen Elliot, a research director at IDC.

Rather than a signal of one player’s increasing dominance, Red Hat’s $523 million in revenue last year – a hefty 31% increase – shows that open source “is a trend that continues to move forward.

“There seems to be enough of a market to go around,” Elliot said. “Each company has its own strategy,” he said, citing Novell Inc.’s recent acquisition of PlateSpin Ltd., developer of innovative virtualization and management tools. “The trend [toward open source] continues to go forward.”

“Red Hat’s revenue growth shouldn’t be surprising.” he continued. “The current economy creates almost a perfect storm in terms of timing because midsized companies are looking at lower-cost options now.”

But it’s not just a tougher economy that has boosted open source companies. A key factor in the growth of companies such as Red Hat and Novell is their single-minded focus on product development and customer support, Elliot said. Another critical growth component is the ability to spot new technologies such as virtualization or enterprise management and incorporate them quickly into their own offerings, he said.

An ongoing challenge for open source companies is continued improvement in interoperability, not only with Windows products but also among their own offerings, Elliot said.

The growing adoption of open source “will continue to move the needle forward … and continue to chip away at [proprietary software adoption] with some success,” he predicted. “Open source isn’t right for everything but [its increasing acceptance] will drive additional discussions where open source wasn’t previously thought of as a viable alternative.

March 28, 2008  1:17 PM

Vyatta router startup challenges rival Cisco with attitude

Don Rosenburg Profile: Dkr

This blog post was written by Pam Derringer, SearchEnterpriseLinux.com’s news writer.

You’ve got to hand it to Vyatta Inc. The Belmont, Calif-based startup daring to take on Cisco Systems Inc. with free, downloadable open source router software is a hands-down winner when it comes to chutzpah.

As those in the news biz are painfully aware, the standard company description at the end of every press release (known as “boilerplate,” and rightly so) is typically jammed with as much meaningless jargon as a commuter-packed, rush-hour subway. But not Vyatta’s.

Vyatta starts by saying its “networking solutions (An empty word that should be exiled) provide an alternative to over-priced, inflexible products from proprietary vendors.” Zap No. 1. But that’s just the warmup.

Then it continues: “Our customers are smarter, better looking, and drive much nicer cars than purchasers of big-name products.” Zap. No. 2. Wow. This is getting personal. Way personal.

Finally, it compliments its customers as “thought leaders.” Attitude can go a long way in helping a David challenge a Goliath.

(A disclaimer: The boilerplate from Cisco, the market share networking leader, is brief and to the point. Much better than most. But it’s a lot less entertaining.)

As a closing note, I’m a native New Englander, so I didn’t have to read Vyatta’s company backgrounder to know that the startup was based in California. No kidding. Its boilerplate has California hip written all over it. Back to my long, impatient wait through gray skies and snowy driveways for our all-too-short New England summers.

March 25, 2008  10:56 AM

Linux on the desktop: Soon, but not yet

Suzanne Wheeler Suzanne Wheeler Profile: Suzanne Wheeler

This blog was contributed by SearchEnterpriseLinux.com expert Sander van Vugt.

At Novell Inc.’s annual BrainShare user conference in Salt Lake City, I talked to Guy Lunardi, one of the most important guys behind Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED). I had one pressing question for him. I showed him my new Dell XPS laptop, which has a lot of fancy stuff and runs out of factory Windows Vista (since that is the only OS that will allow me to use all the fancy stuff). So I asked him, “When will I install SUSE Linux on that?”

He responded, “Sander, if you go to a shop, buy a Vista DVD and install it on your laptop, do you think it will all work?” The answer was of course not.

When you introduce new hardware, one of the major issues is driver support. “Currently we are talking a lot with the people that develop the devices that are in these new computers to make sure that Linux drivers will be available,” Lunardi explained. “We help them wherever we can and it’s only getting better. It helps that we have some major customers like the Peugeot car manufacturer in France that demand specific functionality. They ask [for] a feature, we’ll make sure they get it and the result of all the effort will be in our new software.”

So there have been lots of developments recently. As a result, when it comes out later this year, openSUSE 11 will be as good as Windows Vista in supporting devices. “But,” Lunardi assured me, “you’ll always have to complete the installation of your operating system by downloading and installing additional drivers. That’s the case for Linux, [just] as it is the case for Windows.”

Fair enough. I’ll give it a try when openSUSE 11 comes out.

March 25, 2008  10:01 AM

IT job strategies: Vendor vs. generic certifications

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

IT pros are divided on the value of brand-name certifications. On the one hand, vendor-neutral certifications seem a better fit today’s world of commoditized products. Then again, a Red Hat certification certainly appeals to the majority of Linux-friendly employers.

Last week I chatted with Linux Professional Institute (LPI) president and CEO Jim Lacey about the merits of vendor-neutral certification. In November, LPI joined forces with several organizations, including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Novell and Sun, to revitalize the certification market by forming the Information Technology Certification Council (ITCC). Responding to the Lacey interview, users generally agreed that specialization is useful and can win jobs; but today’s IT environments require IT pros who can think outside just one vendor’s box.

Jesse Becker, a member of the DC Linux User Group (DCLUG), values peers who can apply their specific knowledge to a larger scope of products and technologies. “A good generalist can probably do whatever is needed, even if they may take slightly longer than someone focused on a specific product or system,” Becker said. “Knowing how IP, disk partitions or file systems all work is much more useful than just knowing how to run tools or knowing the magic options to ifconfig, or fdisk or fsck.”

Most Microsoft pros are not good generalists, and most Linux pros are, says Ed Kohlwey, technology director of The ASCII Group of Bethesda, Maryland. Largely, Linux pros have had to be able to work in heterogeneous data centers. Microsoft pros have not, but that’s changing.

Linux administrator Ed Sawicki of Lake Oswego, Ore. thinks vendor-neutral certs encourage innovation and could help break up IT vendor monopolies. “Corporations tend to solve problems in ways that maximize their profits. I don’t believe this changes just because the vendor is selling open source software like Linux. Vendor-specific certifications encourage people to build social capital in specific brands, thus encouraging the formation of a monopoly. We’re all better off if certifications are neutral.”

Vendor-neutral certifications are most useful with commoditized, broadly available and rapidly changing technologies, according to Forrester Research analyst Jeffrey Hammond. They also help IT pros deal with issues independent or orthogonal to specific technologies like programming languages and database products.

On the flip side, Kohlwey told me, vendor-neutral certs may lack clout with employers, who don’t know what those certs mean. It’s easy to recognize the value of a certification from a big vendor, such as Novell, Red Hat, Microsoft or Sun. So, employers most often judge the merits of an IT professional based on their own experience with and current usage of a certain product.

Vendor certs are effective marketing tools for IT professionals, says DCLUG’s Becker. He thinks that’s unfortunate. He’d rather work with or hire an IT pro “with no certifications and a firm understanding of the tasks at hand,” instead of someone who has many brand-name certifications and can’t think outside the box.

If you want to sound off, leave a comment below. Thanks to the DC Linux User Group for sharing their thoughts on the subject.

March 19, 2008  1:33 PM

Vendor-neutral Linux certs becoming popular

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

Linux Professional Institute President and CEO Jim Lacey told SearchEnterpriseLinux.com that he believes vendor-neutral Linux certifications are becoming more popular and signal a larger trend within IT of area specialization versus proficiency with a single product. Lacey also tells us where he thinks Linux managers face challenges in the enterprise.

SearchEnterpriseLinux.com: Recently, HP announced that it would require LPI certification as a prerequisite for its HP Certified Professional Program. What are the trends in Linux certification? Which certification sets have fared well in the Linux marketplace?

Jim Lacey: Linux and open source are becoming more entrenched in larger organizations, and the consistent growth of the LPI organization over the past eight quarters is evidence of that. One of the reasons we are seeing growth is because we aren’t allied with a certain product. Our programs are vendor independent.

Vendor-neutral certification is becoming more important. As things become more ubiquitous, it’s becoming more difficult to standardize on any one product or platform; people are becoming more IT focused in different areas rather than skilled with specific products. Whether you started out on Unix or Windows, you really need a wide variety of skills. Obviously, professionals working in markets that are most saturated, such as the Windows certification markets and even in the server market, aside from the [professionals with] power-user certifications, are looking to expand their skill set. Vendor-independent certifications are really starting to take hold, and that’s where we are seeing some of the growth coming from in the IT space.

SEL: So if certifications have become less product oriented, how do people track their professional development? Are they following specialized area interests in, say, virtualization or Web services?

JL: Definitely. This is one of the things that we are starting to see, as people become more familiar with the technology. To address these more specialized areas, LPI launched the LPI Level 3 certification in January 2007. As we took our questions to the global marketplace, we heard that operating in a mixed environment was important to enterprise customers. More specialization occurs at the top, in different vertical areas, such as virtualization and also security, Web services, mail and messaging. These areas can become much more vertical in the future, especially in mixed environments.

SEL: How are Linux administrators using these certifications?

JL: At the higher levels of certification, people who are more senior in the enterprise with three or more years of experience with Linux in a corporate environment are moving into more mission-critical areas.

In years past, people were certainly using Linux, sometimes unbeknownst to the CEO and CIO of their organization, because it was solving print services or Web services problems. But now that it has become more entrenched, people are looking to upgrade what their Linux OS does or Linux environment does. And that’s why you’re seeing success in the Linux IT space, with products like Sugar CRM being deployed, proving its value. Others are also making that same transition.

SEL: What challenges do you see facing Linux managers in the enterprise-level IT space?

JL: Even if a manager is working on a mission adoption curve, a disruptive technology such as Linux or open source always presents a challenge. I think that the biggest challenge is in the amount of applications available. As companies look to migrate, they are looking to user-end applications. Security, portability and scalability are also to be addressed.

When you look at the trends for North American enterprises with between $50 million and $1 billion in revenue, whether they’re in applications, servers, database management or software development, more than 50% of these companies are doing something with open source, including widespread adoption, limited adoption, and evaluating a pilot. And in the enterprise, we are seeing a growing wave in services. As more funding goes behind services, open source usage in companies trends upward.

Some of the figures to which Lacey referred to can be found in the following reports:

Optaros 2005: The Growth of Open Source Software in Organizations
Actuate 2007
Ovum Research 2007

We would like to hear from you. If you have an opinion on vendor-neutral certification, please share it in the comments section below.

March 17, 2008  1:40 PM

Novell BrainShare 2008 kickoff: New SUSE, new roadmap, new pals

Kutz Profile: Akutz

SearchEnterpriseLinux.com expert Sander van Vugt blogs from Novell BrainShare in this post.

At the annual Novell BrainShare user conference that started in Salt Lake City today, Novell unveiled its roadmap and loaded the car with new friends. The roadmap includes a new strategy focused on agility, called Fossa, and a new release of SUSE: SUSE Linux Enterprise 11. Joining Novell for the trip will be new partners bearing products such as SAP, PlateSpin and Atos Origin.

Focussing on SLE 11, Novell’s CTO Jeff Jaffe talked about product features, but mostly about development plans. Novell wants to leverage the OpenSUSE network, communicating better with the open source comunity, an area where Novell hasn’t been particularly successful lately.

Another new development is the joint solutions that Novell is going to develop with PlateSpin. These solutions will add important features that are currently lacking, such as P2V and V2P in the Xen stack that is offered by SUSE Linux.

Also very important for Novell is that it has extended its partnership with ERP vendor SAP. According to SAP’s Pat Hume, SAP has chosen to work with Novell because it is the fastest growing enterprise-level Linux vendor.

With these developments, Novell is bolstering its position as the vendor in charge where open source software meets enterprise needs. I’ll be here all week reporting on developments.

BrainShare is being talked about elsewhere in the blogosphere. The VAR guy notes that the Microsoft-Novell partnership is a rancorous marriage, as Novell is still pursuing its anti-monopoly suit against Microsoft. Reporting from BrainShare on Sunday, March 16, blogger Richard Bliss saw some clamor around a CRM product, at least as much clamor as a small crowd could muster.

March 10, 2008  11:53 AM

Linux growth tied to personnel issues

Megan Santosus Profile: Msant

This post was written by Megan Santosus, SearchEnterpriseLinux.com feature writer.

Linux has outpaced Windows and Unix in corporate adoption rates, according to research firm IDC’s 2007 server market numbers. The pace of Linux’s future adoption could partly depend upon whether certain people choose early retirement, another researcher says.

According to IDC, Windows is still the dominant player, responsible for 36.6% of server revenues for the fourth quarter of 2007. (Quarterly Windows revenues totaled $5.7 billion—a new quarterly record.) Unix servers took in 33.3% of quarterly revenues. And Linux servers—which reached a milestone of $2 billion for a single quarter—made up 12.7% of revenues for the quarter.

While Linux still lags its rivals, it’s growing at the fastest clip. IDC pegged Linux year-over-year revenue growth from 2006 to 2007 at 11.6%. By comparison, Windows revenues grew 6.9%, and Unix a paltry 1.5%.

Richard Jones, vice president and service director for Data Center Strategies at IT research and advisory firm The Burton Group, sees a shift in sentiment among CIOs he talks to that mirrors what’s going on in the market. “CIOs that haven’t moved to Linux yet are planning to do so soon,” Jones said.

Certainly, Linux is gaining a track record for reliability, Jones said, and costs—at least for initial software licenses and maintenance—are lowest for Linux compared to Unix and Windows. And Jones cited Oracle Corp.’s decision to release its 11g database first on Linux as further evidence that the market is shifting irretrievably.

With all the momentum behind Linux, an interesting question emerges: Why isn’t every shop that is able from a workload standpoint to migrate to Linux doing so?

Jones however sees a good reason for the hesitancy: skills. Unix shops in particular remain set in their server ways. Most have veteran Unix experts running their IT systems. “Many shops today have Unix engineers and administrators,” he said. “Once those people start to retire in droves, that’s when many CIOs will make the move to Linux.”

It sounds downright bizarre to buck the trend toward running apps on commodity servers, especially considering that enterprise applications like Oracle and SAP run on commodity-based x86 boxes running Linux.

In this case, it’s not the technology after all. It’s the people.

March 6, 2008  11:13 PM

Hamlet on Linux vs. Windows Server 2008

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

Last week, SearchEnterpriseLinux.com editorial director Jan Stafford mentioned that the new Microsoft Windows Server 2008, which launched on February 27, has features designed to give it a Linux feel:

Any new Microsoft OS prompts Linux users to scratch their heads and ask, “Why pay lots to upgrade from one Windows release that doesn’t work very well to another that doesn’t work well either?” Users say that a Windows Server release launch is ultimately an opportunity for any Microsoft IT shop to evaluate Linux. Even a Linux-like Windows won’t provide the stability, flexibility and migration freedom of Linux.

We received several responses, including one from Steve Dasey in the UK who asks the immortal question, to be or not to be… proprietary:

Surely that is the question
Whether it is nobler to pay for support on an open source OS or for a proprietary OS.

Are either then free ?
How viable is it to run mission critical applications on a non commercially supported OS.
Are there price differences? – of course.
Are there advantages to both? – of course.
But the TCO is about a lot more than the cost of purchasing the boxed product.

I am pro choice, pro Linux, pro open source, but commercially apples need to be likened to apples

Alas, poor Tux. I knew him, Bill Gates. I think if Hamlet were running Windows Server 2008, he might remark “O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I…to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous pricing.” Server 2008 Enterprise will run $3,999 versus $0 for RHEL. The enterprise support package that Red Hat offers is still significantly less, too, at $2,500.

Got a rebuttal? Philosophize in the comment section.

February 27, 2008  1:27 PM

Dell continues to expand its Ubuntu sales area

Kutz Profile: Akutz

Originally, Dell announced that it was going to ship Ubuntu systems only in the U.S.. Then Dell announced the addition of Germany, France and the U.K to the list of countries getting Ubuntu Dells. Now you can add Canada and all of Central and South America to the list.

Dell is clearly not doing this as a charity or public service; there is a real demand for these systems, contrary to what the occasional naysayer would have you believe (n.b., consider the source) .

I expect that in the not-too-distant future, Dell will add Australia and most of Europe to the list of nations being offered Ubuntu systems. I wouldn’t be surprised if the timing is planned for shortly after the Hardy Heron (Ubuntu 8.04) release in April, or its update (aka ‘service pack’ in Microspeak) 8.04.1 in June.

February 22, 2008  12:12 PM

Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex planned for October 2008

Kutz Profile: Akutz

Mark Shuttleworth, “Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life” of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, has posted his vision for the (planned) October 2008 (8.10) release, code named the “Intrepid Ibex”:

A particular focus for us will be pervasive internet access, the ability to tap into bandwidth whenever and wherever you happen to be […] and access the web through a variety of wireless technologies. We want you to be able to move from the office, to the train, and home, staying connected all the way.

Details for 8.10 will be hashed out at the next Ubuntu Developer Summit in Prague from May 19th to the 23rd.

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