Automaker Audi Implements Linux

Making the switch to Linux can be an ideological decision. For carmaker Audi, it's a practical move that's calculated to pay off.

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Only after popular server-side applications are ported to Linux will the Linux distributions be able to take direct aim at Microsoft in multiapplication server environments, Enderle says. For now, the lack of ISV (independent software vendor) support for most Linux variants makes it difficult for enterprises to commit to Linux for everyday applications. The next battleground for the Linux vendors may be for the hearts and minds of ISVs, as the vendors try to extend their footprints beyond single-purpose server installations. (Red Hat is looking to do just that with RHEL 3.0; see "Red Hat Scores With RHEL 3.0.)

It would be much easier, Enderle says, if ISVs could simply develop a version of their wares to run on all Linux distributions. But as with Unix, the only thing common among the various Linux flavors is the open-source kernel at the core. All the resources on top of that are unique to the platform.

Saller does see one downside to Linux. For large Linux-Intel deployments to match RISC systems in power and reliability, they typically have to be clustered. Although Platform Computing's LSF lets Audi manage its cluster, Saller says he would like to see big multiprocessor Linux systems emerge to relieve the burden of having to administer so many separate system images.

He may get his wish. For years, big-systems vendors have resisted designing multiprocessor Linux systems for fear of cannibalizing their Unix businesses. But now, some are realizing that the move to Linux is inevitable and perhaps the only defense against Microsoft in the data center, Enderle says. The most notable convert is IBM. SGI also has begun marketing what it calls Linux supercomputers.

It's taking time, but the Linux movement is becoming more pragmatic. Audi and other big IT shops are voting not with their passions but with their pocketbooks, and the religion is spreading.

David Joachim is editor of the NETWORK COMPUTING Enterprise Architecture Group. Write to him at [email protected].

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