Sun's Solaris offers IBM one very important feature that AIX cannot -- a mature Intel port. (See David Berlind's "Predictions of Solaris' death were obviously premature." This makes Solaris suitable for any and all users, no matter how small or how large. For all of its strengths, Linux simply cannot make the claim of scalability -- especially for the enterprise needing the power of 'big iron' to do the job. No other modern OS is as scalable or as mature (including AIX.) Oh, and there's that other thing ... It's litigation-proof. SCO holds no power whatsoever over Sun Microsystems and its outright ownership of Solaris (their flavor of UNIX with SVR4 roots).
As of right now, all existing AIX licenses are in limbo -- and they may be for years to come. Well, at least until SCO either hits the wall or is bought out by some Linux-tolerant UNIX licensee. (Which, by necessity, includes most UNIX licensees.) Some options are:
- SCO loses their case against IBM and keeps appealing until the money runs out. (This could take years but appealing a loss is their only chance for survival.)
- They lose their suit with Novell, who is claiming ownership of the UNIX SVR4 code stream. (In which case SCO will quietly fade away -- selling off whatever IP value they still have left.)
- They lose their suit with RedHat -- effectively negating any charges of Linux infringement of SVR4 Intellectual Property. (In which case SCO could resume its business of Licensing its version of SVR4 -- but with a crippled relationship with what few customers it has left.)
SCO could also win all three of these suits but judging buy the evidence presented so far, this seems pretty unlikely. In any event, it is hard to picture a rosy future for SCO. Yes, a triple-play victory means that IBM and the others are poorer and that SCO's lawyers are richer but it doesn't mean much else. Sure IBM, could decide to pay whatever it takes to get back its rescinded AIX licenses but, with Solaris in its stable, it could also decide to abandon AIX altogether. With a dwindling customer base, all SCO gets out of even a huge victory is a few dollars with which to sue others or otherwise bargain for a better sale price. Since The Open Group (not SCO) owns the UNIX specification, the SVR4 code stream is of limited value.
Back to the point though. This is a win-win for Sun and for IBM. I recently listened to Schwartz in one of your podcasts and he seems very much to be Scott McNealy's alter ego -- just as Steve Ballmer is Bill Gates' alter ego. Both of these level-headed men will keep their respective companies competing for years to come. I am not at all surprised that Schwartz took the high road in his blog -- or that IBM is taking those steps that will continue to permit it to provide a wide range of services to its customers -- large or small -- no matter what the fate of AIX or Linux turns out to be.