The Linux nation gathers once again this week in New York for LinuxWorld Expo with companies both large and small unwrapping products and strategies spanning the breadth of the computing industry, but with a steady focus on establishing a loftier presence in the enterprise.
With Version 2.6 of the Linux kernel now in the hands of developers, many top-tier vendors are expected to outline their upcoming plans to ship exploitive versions of Linux and Linux-compatible applications later this year aimed at the upper echelons of corporate computing. Version 2.6 offers significantly improved support for systems with multiple processors, making it a more intimidating competitor to both Windows- and Unix-based mid-range servers.
"We are looking at this [Version 2.6] as a major release that will go a long way towards helping us determine how much investment we should be looking to make over the next year or two in mission-critical servers. We have a lot of older Unix- and Windows-based systems we will be needing to replace over that time," said Don Frechette, a purchasing agent at a large bank based in New York City attending this week's show.
While they do not plan to articulate plans to support the new kernel, Oracle executives will stress the increasing importance of Linux as a development platform. In fact, the open source environment will soon become the company's primary development environment for future versions of its suite of applications as well as for its Oracle 10g database.
"Linux is moving to be our base development platform. It has already become out base development platform for our apps suite and it will be our base platform once 10g goes out the door," said Dave Dargo, vice president at Oracle's Linux Program Office.
The company will also offer updates on its Developer's Release of Oracle 10g. The product, which is laced with a number of grid capabilities, is causing some corporate developers to think more seriously about accelerating proposed grid projects in their shops.
"Some users are getting a little more aggressive with grid implementations based around 10g. We are seeing more of that among larger IT companies and we expect the smaller ones to follow. Their acceptance of grid is tracking the way Linux did when it first came out," Dargo said.
Dargo said Linux is better enabling the company to standardize all of the key building blocks needed to create grids, most notably perhaps, is grid management software that will be part and parcel of Oracle 10g. This increased standardization can only serve to lower costs, he said.
"The grid management software we can standardize around Linux allows users to retain their existing Unix skill set but now apply that to the Intel instruction set in their family of processors," Dargo said.
Oracle will also next week throw its support behind IBM's Power line of chip, which fuels Big Blue's pSeries and iSeries servers, which both run Linux. The company already supports the chips used in IBM's zSeries of mainframes as well as the company's Intel-based xSeries.
Computer Associates (CA), which has had an increasingly strong presence at LinuxWorld the last few years, will show an even stronger strategic commitment by declaring the industry is now in the midst of the "Linux Generation." According to one company executive, Linux is now in its evolution where the IBM PC was circa 1984.