Among all animals, penguins are the best suited to survival in bitterly cold weather. It's appropriate then, that the plucky flightless bird is the symbol for Linux, the upstart operating system that drew so many, despite a frigid wind blowing off the Hudson River, to this week's LinuxWorld in New York.
Though the show floor itself only occupied a portion of the vast Javitz Convention Center space, the attendees were numerous and enthusaistic. The big vendor booths, from industry heavyweights IBM, HP, Intel, CA, Sun, AMD and Dell, to Linux software specialists Red Hat and SUSE, made it clear that Linux has hit the big time. Even Microsoft was there.
Downstairs from the show floor, IBM Senior Vice President Steven Mills' keynote was so crowded, I ended up getting one of the last seats up in one of the balconies. Prior to that day, despite seeing years of keynotes in that room, I didn't even know there were balconies! Later, Dell CIO Randy Mott's keynote was nearly as crowded. Both men touted the strength of Linux, not as an alternative to Windows, or for its strength as a workgroup or single-purpose server, but as an enterprise platform that would knock traditional UNIXs off their pedestal.
Mott issued a further challenge to his audience: to embrace technology change, and specificaly to spend more of their IT budget on development than they do on systems maintenance. "All of us have legacy systems that have held us back," he noted. "We're in a traffic jam."
Mott claimed that Dell has, in three years, upped its devlopment spending from 25% to 55% of its IT budget, en route to a goal of 75%, and that along the way, the company had retired 14 proprietary systems and moved those processes to Linux. It's a challenge solution provider can only hope their end-user customers embrace.
As an aside, following a keynote, let's not take questions from the audience. Useful, insightful questions are rare indeed, compared to political grandstanding, techy showing-off, and general missing-the-point. One audience member upbraided Mott for not mentioning Bill Gates among those executives creating technology change. It would have been a reasonable criticism, were it not for the fact that Mott had done exactly that, moments earlier, complete with projecting a giant photo of Gates onto two onstage screens. Hello? Plus, the questioning nearly made me miss my train.
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