If The SCO Group hopes to change the course of IBM’s AIX operating system and its use by enterprise customers, the Lindon, Utah-based company appears set to fail.
SCO last week ratcheted up its rhetoric in its lawsuit against IBM, tripling the damage claims it is seeking to more than $3 billion, and telling users of IBM’s AIX operating system that they no longer have the right to use IBM’s version of Unix.
But despite the all attention, IBM customers and industry analysts do not expect the case to have any significant impact on IBM’s products in the foreseeable future.
AIX users have expressed concerns that SCO may pursue legal action against them directly, said George Weiss, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner.
“[But] as long as the case is pending and unresolved, I don’t understand how SCO can exercise any rights to terminate any end-user rights agreement that IBM has with its users,” Weiss said.
SCO executives have stated that they are content to have a drawn-out court case, creating some pressure on IBM to settle the dispute. “Basically the issue is between IBM and SCO,” Weiss said.
“I think IBM will do everything in its power to ease the concerns of [AIX] users,” Weiss added. “So obviously, they do not want to see disruptions in shipments, contracts, or orders. I believe that if they need to, they will provide either verbal or written assurance that that the users will suffer no interruptions.”
For its part, IBM has kept its cards close to its chest, arguing it has done nothing wrong and predicting the lawsuit will have no effect on its product plans. IBM has also promised to stand by, although not necessarily indemnify, its AIX customers.
There is no doubt that SCO’s actions have incensed the Linux community, but they also appear to be damaging the company’s credibility in the rest of the industry and within its own customer base.
“I have had a long-term relationship with SCO, and I find it sad that they have resorted to litigation to make money,” said Paul Onnen, CTO at WebMD in Elmwood Park, N.J.
“I remember when they were a champion of Unix and what it represented,” Onnen said.
“Clearly [this is] an extortion attempt by SCO since they can’t compete in the open market,” said Ray Duncan, director of technology and architecture at Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles, Calif.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what effect the lawsuit will have on Linux.
Should SCO sue a Linux vendor such as Red Hat or SuSe Linux, that could hurt Linux adoption, Gartner’s Weiss said.
But even without a lawsuit, the uncertainty over whether or not the Linux kernel contains unauthorized code, as SCO alleges, might cause some slowdown in Linux server shipments, some analysts argue.
Some technology buyers, however, predicted the opposite effect, saying that uncertainty about AIX created by the lawsuit could actually help Linux. “If it impacts IBM’s long-term server strategy, it will probably be in the direction of Linux, not away from it,” said Cedars-Sinai’s Duncan.
The only clear winners in the imbroglio to date are SCO’s investors.
The company’s stock has jumped from about $2 per share when the suit was launched, to more than $10 at press time.