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2/14/2005
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Linux' Maturing Message

At this week's LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in Boston, look for technology vendors striving to convince IT managers that the real value to running Linux isn't just cost cutting.

At this week's LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in Boston, look for technology vendors striving to convince IT managers that the real value to running Linux isn't just cost cutting.Now that Linux and a variety of open-source software applications have firmly planted themselves into business computing environments, companies are looking beyond the promised cost savings and wondering how their investment in this new technology paradigm will deliver over time. At this week's LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in Boston, technology vendors will try to convince the market that running Linux isn't just a cost-cutting strategy, but that it can offer some of the most-valuable features of Unix, and also set the stage for the delivery of data in a way that's comparable to a utility.

"As companies migrate Unix workloads they want to make sure they don't have to give back the gains they had in the Unix environment, particularly in terms of utilization," Mark Wright, president and CEO of Aurema Inc., a provider of workload management software. The company Tuesday will announce that in April a version of its ArmTech product will be available for SuSE Linux Enterprise Server. Wright says his company has had discussions with Red Hat but that, although ArmTech can run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, it hasn't been certified by Red Hat.

Red Hat this week will formally unveil version 4 of its enterprise Linux operating system. One of the goals of this latest version is to "continue to provide the higher-end features that our customers previously would get only from the Unix vendors, the things that differentiated Unix from Windows," says Donald Fischer, senior product manager for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Although x86-based servers running Windows generally cost less than RISC-based servers running Unix, one rub for users has been the need to buy multiple Windows servers to handle the same workload as a single Unix server. Linux servers are expected to provide a solution to the utilization problem through a number of ways. Some software, such as Virtual Infrastructure from VMware, which was acquired by EMC last year, lets users carve up an x86-based server into several virtual servers.

Other software for Linux servers is designed to transform processors, memory, and storage from multiple servers into a centralized resource pool that looks to an administrator like a large SMP server. Virtual Iron Software Inc. says it will bring this capability to Linux servers in May with its Virtual Iron VFe software. Company founder Scott Davis says VFe could be made available to Windows and Unix servers as well down the road.

Such capabilities are crucial to Linux's ongoing maturity and to entice companies to migrate an increasing number of workloads to open source.

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