The LinuxWorld trade show kicked off in San Francisco on Tuesday under the theme of what's next for open source. Many of the scheduled keynotes and presentations for this week's event revolve around celebrating the penetration of Linux into the enterprise and speculating on where the technology can go from here.
The show's first day was highlighted by some big names whose presence demonstrates just how far open source has come. Oracle president Charles Phillips delivered the opening keynote address, and the first two press conferences of the day were held by Novell and IBM.
Phillips' keynote was most remarkable for its brevity. In less than 25 minutes, he outlined how much Oracle has come to depend on Linux, and how the company plans to keep developing and deploying the technology, primarily in its grid-computing initiatives.
Phillips said open source experienced 32 percent unit growth and 31 percent revenue growth in 2004 as it began to move more deeply into the data center.
"This growth comes at a time when the industry is not growing that quickly, and this is one of those rare occasions where people have globally reached a consensus on a technology," Phillips said.
He said the technology has been gaining steam with ISVs in recent months; Oracle itself currently has about 1,500 ISVs working with Linux in some form.
"There was a slow trickling of ISVs a couple years ago, but now it has accelerated to the point where we offer a lot of open-source services and go-to-market products," Phillips said. "Any time you have that sort of unit growth, it attracts the application vendors."
The emergence of open source has been critical to Oracle's grid-computing push because it has helped the company push past the limitations of traditional computing paradigms.
"Moore's Law is winding down because the laws of physics have come into play, and to get the same price/performance improvements we're used to, you have to use multiple chips in multiple configurations," Phillips said.
In a press conference later on Tuesday Novell summarized its seven--yes, seven--announcements for the media and analysts. Among the highlights was the creation of the openSuSE project, an initiative that provides free access to SuSE Linux and gives open-source developers access to the review, testing and development of the SuSE Linux distribution. Novell is offering beta releases of SuSE Linux 10.0 at the LinuxWorld event, and the solution will be available for a free download this fall.
"We've been making considerable progress with enterprise customers, and we've secured a number of application partnerships critical to enterprise growth," said David Patrick, Novell's general manager for Linux, open source and platform services. "This announcement will help us bring in the developer community earlier in the process."
Novell also released an enhanced Novell Open Enterprise Server with capabilities that simplify the process of migrating from NetWare or Windows to Linux, either all at once or gradually.
"By adding a series of migration tools, we're helping companies focus on improving the performance of network services running on Linux," Patrick said.
Despite its recent successes, Patrick added, Novell and SuSE Linux have much left to do, both near-term and down the road.
"We need to work on the commodity end of the market by building communities around these products," he said. "We've focused so far on the data center, high-performance computing and workstations. We see opportunities on the desktop, but that's a longer road for us; we're planning to use the momentum for desktop Linux that exists outside the U.S. to build momentum here."
Also on Tuesday, IBM unveiled a shift in how it develops and delivers Linux solutions. Going forward, Big Blue plans to focus more on industry-specific IT and business problems, rather than on products.
Designed to respond more quickly and fluidly to customer demands in vertical industries, the approach will result in specific solutions constructed around specifically identified customer challenges that will further enable them to take advantage of real-time, on-demand applications. The program already is under way with more than 300 Linux-solution engagements across the globe, including ones for the automotive and retail sectors.
IBM also announced it has expanded Linux support across its Workplace offerings, and that it has combined with Red Hat to enable organizations to evaluate a combined Workplace Services Express 2.5 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux solution for 90 days.