SCO at your service

Vendor shifts its focus and embraces Linux, while it's at it

Microsoft isn't the only company turning to service for profits. SCO, the leading Unix for Intel vendor, also sees services as its future.

"SCO is changing," says Mike Foster, SCO VP Corporate Marketing. "Our focus is moving towards server-based computing." Translation: SCO is in the process of making a switch from traditional client and service computing to the Internet and server model.

That doesn't mean, however, that SCO is just using services as a mask for a renewed push to sell more copies of SCO OpenServer 5 and UnixWare. While SCO intends to keep evolving and selling its lead pair of Unix operating systems, provision of services will take on an at least an equal role for the company.

Foster says he believes that "with tons of Unix experience, we have a lot to offer both the Unix and the Linux community."

Won't this emphasis on service, coming from SCO's Professional Services division, mean taking the bread out of reseller's mouths? No, according to Foster.

He claims that, for integrators and resellers--to whom account control is critical--SCO Professional Services can work as a subcontractor.

SCO services are not just for SCO products. AIX, Linux, any and every flavour of Unix: SCO Professional Services will be there to help. While all that sounds good, SCO may merely be doing so to move into non-SCO account and play bait and switch. Foster's tart response to that suggestion is that Professional Services is a separate profit/loss center from the operating-system division and there is absolutely no incentive for its people to hard sell SCO products.

Nowhere is that more clear than in the Linux marketplace. SCO already has a deal in place with TurboLinux to provide high-end services for its Linux products. Although SCO wouldn't confirm it, SCO is expected to announce a similar services deal shortly with Caldera Systems.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. At LinuxWorld, on February 2, SCO will be announcing a new portfolio of servers for the Linux market. That doesn't mean that SCO will be releasing its own Linux brand or buying up an already on the market Linux.

Instead, while details are shrouded, SCO's new products will be more compatible with Linux and will help bridge the gap between Unix, Linux and Windows systems. One such move, while unconfirmed, will be to port SCO's popular Tarantella middleware program to Linux, say sources.

Tarantella acts as a universal translator between clients and server-based programs to enable customers, regardless of their operating system, to run applications as Java-enabled clients.

What makes this even more interesting is that the next version, Tarantella Enterprise II due out Janruary 23, will provide Windows services to clients. If that sounds familiar, it should--that's the same thing that Citrix MetaFrame does. SCO is targeting MetaFrame customers aggressively with generous license trade-in deals via its resellers.

Company sources say that SCO's investment interest in Linux--even after the money that's already been spent on Caldera Systems and LinuxMall--remains high. Don't be surprised if SCO announces another such deal at LinuxWorld. After all, as Foster says, "We want to come into the Linux community in a friendly basis."

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