EDS backtracks on 'strategically important' Linux

The outsourcing specialist now says it will embrace Linux, after unleashing a storm of protest by branding the open source OS unsuitable for enterprise use
Written by Munir Kotadia, Contributor on

Outsourcing specialist EDS said it was "proactively engineering" Linux into its product portfolio, backtracking on previous statements that the open-source software was insecure and unscalable.

EDS' management in the United States moved to clarify its position on Linux in a statement issued to ZDNet UK sister site ZDNet Australia on Thursday after Robb Rasmussen, the vice-president responsible for alliances, unleashed a storm last week by denigrating the open-source platform's readiness for large enterprises.

At the launch of EDS' Agility Alliance — a grouping of IT heavyweights including Cisco, Microsoft, Sun, Dell, Oracle and EMC — in Sydney, Rasmussen told attendees that Linux was not suitable for such users because it had issues with security, scalability and could possibly fork into different flavours.

Rasmussen's comments not only caused uproar in the pro-Linux community, they also directly contradicted statements and case studies on EDS' Web site that applauded Linux specifically for its security and stability.

However, the clarification — issued from the office of EDS' global chief technology officer — said the outsourcing heavyweight would not slam the door on Linux, and planned to embrace it in future.

"An important and growing portion of our clients are asking to look at Linux and OSS [open source software] as a part of their total solution package.

"Provided that Linux and OSS solutions meet EDS' standards of performance, reliability and client 'fit', we will provide the level of support consistent with our promise to clients. Moving into 2005, we are proactively engineering Linux and OSS into our portfolio of hosting and desktop services. Furthermore, as we evaluate Linux and OSS products and the associated services required, we will include these in our standard portfolio as appropriate," it said.

However, the statement also revealed only a small percentage of its clients currently run Linux. Although the operating environment is not the company's preferred platform, it is "strategically important," the company said.

"EDS believes that we will continue to see a mixed client environment with .Net, Java/Unix, z/OS — and over time an increasing role for Linux and OSS. Our next generation hosting services are based on leading-edge EDS Agility Alliance partner technologies that use industry-recognised operating systems. EDS Hosting Services believes that in order to provide a well-rounded utility offering, inclusion of Linux — alongside Windows and Solaris — is strategically important," it added.

Munir Kotadia reported from Sydney for ZDNet Australia. For more ZDNet Australia stories, click here.

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