SCO customers need not fear, says Caldera chief

Caldera to continue sales and support for SCO's Unix products, SCO brand, says Caldera's Ransom Love

The new Caldera Systems, after its planned takeover of Santa Cruz Operation's Unix business, will combine the best of the worlds of Linux and Unix, said Caldera chief executive Ransom Love at a speech Monday morning -- and incidentally, it will give Caldera access to SCO's vast, worldwide distribution channel and installed customer base.

Love, along with SCO president and chief executive Doug Michels, opened Forum 2000 (formerly SCO Forum) in Santa Cruz this week on an upbeat note, speaking of the opportunities both companies will gain after the sale is complete. SCO will retain only its Tarantella division -- which makes software for accessing applications through a Web browser -- and will rename itself Tarantella.

Linux is the future, Love said, and the new Caldera will bring Linux' open source promise together with the traditional world of Unix boxes running in all levels of businesses all over the world. "Linux is marvellous technology at the low end, but it doesn't scale to the high end," Love said.

"We need a technology that can go with the thinnest of clients up to high-end datacentre needs. Combined, we will provide that scalability."

Michels emphasised that, whatever potential Linux might have, Unix will stick around in the near term: "Linux and Unix will exist side by side."

"There is no winner or loser at this point. They are going to come together and coexist as one community of open systems for the next few years, and Caldera is in a unique position to exploit this."

Still, users of SCO's UnixWare and particularly Open Server -- many of whom are businesses such as doctors' offices and fast-food outlets with simple server needs -- might be forgiven for imagining the future of their systems will be sacrificed amidst the monumental hype around Linux.

Love attempted to allay such fears, insisting support for Open Server and UnixWare will continue. "Why would we buy it just to destroy what we buy?" he said. "We are committed to ensure that we continue that support on that technology."

Caldera plans to continue selling and supporting such systems, but will also offer Linux systems and a Linux migration path for those who want it. The installed base will also get access to such Linux goodies as applications and driver support, Love said. "Linux can help that [installed] base. Caldera will provide a seamless way to embrace Linux, and you can move to Linux if you want."

It makes sense for Unix and Linux to exist side by side at the same company, according to some industry observers. While Linux is moving toward a more robust, business-friendly form, Caldera will be able to offer existing Unix products to fill those needs, and may eventually be able to convert those customers to Linux.

"Caldera had a server product and they had a desktop. With SCO, they can hit more functional points," said Jean Bozman, research director, commercial systems and servers for IDC.

"As Linux becomes more and more capable it could at least replace Open Server. But it will take several years for Linux to reach that point -- it took Unix eight years. In the meantime they will have Unix covering this range of users," Bozman said.

Caldera also gets SCO's Unix engineers, who can help make the Linux kernel stronger, and perhaps most importantly, the company gets access to SCO's worldwide network of resellers, according to Bozman -- something no other Linux company can match.

Love hinted changes might be on the way for the SCO brand -- while "the SCO name has value around the world in many markets", the Caldera chief said there is a need for the company "to be seen as it is, a new company. But we don't want to lose what we have." He said no decision has yet been made on the branding matter.

Love also reiterated the company's commitment to Monterrey, the version of Unix co-developed by SCO and IBM for Intel's IA-64 platform. "Officially it is to continue, and it has a reason to continue," Love said. He remarked that the company would be interested in Linux integration into Monterrey, which now has the somewhat less picturesque moniker AIX 5L.

Much of the reason for Monterrey's continued existence may be down to IBM, which now has a Unix strategy both for its traditional RISC market as well as with Intel's upcoming chip. That could be extremely valuable, should IA-64 processors such as Itanium gain a foothold in the Unix market. "IBM has a Unix-RISC strategy and it also has a Unix-Intel strategy. So if that takes off, they still stand to benefit," said analyst Bozman.

She remarked that through the Monterrey collaboration, IBM also has access to SCO's powerful distribution channel.

Caldera's acquisition of SCO's Unix business is due to close in October 2000, pending regulatory and shareholder approval.

IBM's decision to give Monterey the official sobriquet of AIX seems, shall we say, a little daft. And although this much vaunted operating system may not be dead, Martin Banks see it's future lying in a backwater. While Linux sails onwards and upwards and ever closer to the main stream. Go to AnchorDesk UK for the news comment.

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