HP's Fiorina: Compaq Merger Good For Linux

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Hewlett-Packard's embattled chairman and CEO, Carly Fiorina, took the stage at LinuxWorld Wednesday morning to promote the company's controversial merger agreement with Compaq Computer as a good deal for the Linux movement.

In New York to present the keynote address at LinuxWorld Expo, Fiorina said the combination of the two OEMs is appropriate given the "market-unifying" approach to standards such as Linux and Intel Itanium.

Acknowledging that the proposed merger remains highly contested, Fiorina told attendees that the combined entity would favor the development of Linux, yet noted that Windows and Unix will remain viable operating systems in the future.

"As you know, there has been spirited debate over the merger," Fiorina said before a packed audience. "This is a combination that is good for Linux. [With Compaq we will enhance our enterprise business, IT services business, PC business and printer business. At the top of the list [of enterprise customers is Linux. We can't disappoint customers who are demanding Linux solutions."

Even as she extolled the cost-savings virtues of Linux--and unveiled a strategic, three-year pact with DreamWorks SKG that makes HP the sole provider of Linux technology and consulting services to the movie studio--Fiorina took a less aggressive approach to the future of Linux than competitor IBM. She said that Windows and Unix will remain powerful forces even as Linux grows to a $10 billion business in the next three to five years.

"This industry loves a good dogfight. I know, boy do I know," Fiorina quipped, alluding to the controversy her company currently faces. "The reality is that Microsoft is a mainstay of corporate industry and it will continue to be so.

"Open source shifts the basic economies of this industry ... but as this merger goes forward, our [OS platforms will be Unix, Windows and Linux."

However, HP is making a concerted effort to pick up on the growing Linux business in the enterprise, Fiorina said, noting that HP's big Linux customers include Amazon.com, Boeing, HSBC, ViaWest and Speedera Networks.

Toward that end, HP unveiled two new carrier-grade servers for the telecommunications industry based on Linux as well as a new Linux development platform for openCall SS7 applications and an HP Application server that supports Linux.

Fiorina said HP will also expand its Linux consulting and outsourcing services that will be delivered through many channels, including VARs and ISVs. There are big bucks to be made, she said. "This is the breakout year for Linux," she said. "Its presence in the enterprise has gone up significantly in the last year."

Fiorina also applauded the creation of a working group within the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) for Linux-based solutions aimed at the telecommunications industry. The OSDL, together with industry leaders and open-source community members, unveiled the creation of technical working groups to develop feature road maps to enable Linux for the enterprise and telecommunications market segments. Five new members were also added to the OSDL: Alcatel, Cisco, MontaVista Software, Nokia and Toshiba.

Fiorina said the remaining obstacles for Linux include getting more trained personnel, building more application-specific applications and ease-of-use functionality, as well as maintaining a royalty-free process for open-source development, a statement that scored big points with the audience.

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