While AOL denied a published report about it buying Linux company Red Hat, many industry observers,including Computer Associates International's CEO,predict significant consolidation in the Linux industry this year.
CA President and CEO Sanjay Kumar, who detailed the launch of 23 new Linux-based enterprise, storage and security management products at LinuxWorld Expo, predicted the cast of characters and familiar names and faces in the Linux industry will change in 2002.
IBM's backing has given Linux a better credibility rating than it had in 2000, but the open-source operating system needs more powerful industry titans and brand names to lead the charge, Kumar said during his keynote speech at LinuxWorld Expo on Thursday.
"We think the Linux marketplace will go through consolidation ... and the stature [of companies backing Linux is critical," Kumar said, noting that corporations need more reassurance before fully accepting Linux as an alternative to proprietary operating systems. "In the eyes of enterprise customers, viability [of Linux companies remains important. You need size and meat in [those companies. I view it as positive for the [Linux platform and the industry," he said.
Kumar pointed to CA's new Linux customers including Citigroup, GIC, Shanghai Telecom and PC Mall as evidence of growing enterprise acceptance of Linux.
Yet, the lack of mission-critical applications remains a problem for Linux, and one that he said his company is rushing to address.
Unicenter Network and Systems Management, Advantage Ingres databases and eTrust security management products, for example, are now available on Linux, and CA's BrightStor storage management solutions for Linux is in beta testing. At the show, CA said that 42 new Linux products are now available and 12 are in beta testing. When testing of all products is completed in three to six months, CA will offer a total of 54 Linux solutions.
"The change is that substantial in the enterprise-class customer," said Kumar, noting earlier that nearly half of all CIOs he chats with today ask him about his company's Linux support. "Enterprise customers aren't afraid of the Linux platform. They're not worried about who owns the platform or who is accountable for it anymore [because of IBM's backing."
At CA World in Orlando, Fla., this April, CA will demonstrate a higher level of commitment to Linux by unveiling a strong bond with the open-source community, Kumar said. "Linux will be a big part of 2002," he said. "We are absolutely serious about Linux. This is where the rubber meets the road."
CA also named Seiko Precision, Capital and Bording among the roster of its Linux customers.
On Wednesday, CA Vice President of Marketing John Pincomb said the company is working with systems integrators,and customers,including Neam in Scandinavia and PC Mall in the United States to resell and integrate the company's line of Linux applications. CA, like Hewlett-Packard, also plans to launch a channel program optimized for Linux in the coming months, but he declined to give specifics.