Eye on the Competition

Up-to-the-minute news on Sun's rivals

July  1998
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Netscape, Oracle, and Informix to port server products to Linux

San Francisco (July 22, 1998) -- The Linux bandwagon picked up some serious steam this week as Netscape, Oracle, and Informix all announced plans to port major pieces of software to the Linux operating system.

A number of other software server vendors -- including Computer Associates International Inc., Software AG, and InterBase, -- have or are porting their databases and other servers to Linux, at least partially as an alternative to Microsoft's Windows NT.

Tim Payne, director of server marketing at Oracle said that his company has felt increasing customer demand for Linux ports of its database and application server products over the last six months. "I think the real demand has been fuelled by customers who want to deploy Web-based applications over the Internet."

Oracle plans to make a free trial version of its database for Linux available by the end of this year. The application server should emerge in the first quarter of 1999. Payne would not say whether or not Oracle plans to port its development tools to Linux as well.

Netscape Communications Corp. on Tuesday said that it will be delivering its server products for the increasingly popular Linux open source operating system by spring of 1999.

Netscape will first deliver Linux versions of its Netscape Messaging Server and Netscape Directory Server. Netscape is targeting the Linux Unix-based products for highly scalable uses among Internet service providers (ISPs) and large enterprises, the company said.

The freely available Linux, developed collaboratively among a community of Internet-based developers, has captured a sizable and growing share of the ISP market and is quickly being adopted by enterprises, with an estimated seven million users, said Netscape.

Netscape already offers its newly available beta version of Communicator 4.5 client software on Linux.

"Netscape enterprise solutions on Linux will make it even easier for businesses to leverage existing investments," said John Paul, senior vice president and general manager of Netscape's servers division.

Adding to the fun, Informix today released Linux versions of its Informix-SE database and ESQL/C development tools.

--Robert McMillan, SunWorld, and Dana Gardner, InfoWorld


HP, Intel join forces on standards-based net management

San Mateo (July 20, 1998) -- Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp. on Monday announced a joint initiative under which the two companies are developing a policy-based network management solution for controlling bandwidth, security, virtual private networks, and other network services in heterogeneous enterprises.

Designed to ensure that network service-level agreements are met, the HP and Intel solution enables administrators to proactively manage their networks and prioritize network bandwidth using policy-based technology.

This technology is the fruit of more than two years of labor by the Intel Architecture Labs and is based on the Common Open Policy Service (COPS), Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), and Resource ReSerVation Protocol (RSVP) standards, according to a statement issued by HP and Intel.

HP and Intel's policy-based network management solution will be usable with any network equipment that interoperates with Cisco Systems' CiscoAssure Policy Networking system. In addition, HP ProCurve switches will implement the policy-based technologies to be managed by a central HP OpenView console, according to the companies.

HP and Intel expect to introduce the standards-based service-level management technology into their respective networking product lines within a year, the statement said.

--Emily Fitzloff, InfoWorld


SCO readies UnixWare clustering, business edition

New York (July 15, 1998) -- In the wake of its UnixWare 7 release, Santa Cruz Operation Inc. (SCO) is readying clustering and small-business options for the operating system that are aimed at specific groups of users.

Boosting its effort to appeal to enterprise users with high-end operating system needs, SCO next week will launch UnixWare NonStop Clusters, which initially will allow management of six-node systems.

SCO is also putting the finishing touches on OpenServer 5.05 and UnixWare 7 Business Edition, both aimed at smaller businesses, according to company officials. These products will be launched at SCO's user forum in Santa Cruz, CA, in August, said officials here today.

But with Microsoft Corp.'s NT nipping at its heels in the low-end market, and expecting a wave of support for Intel Corp.'s 64-bit Merced processing architecture, SCO appears to be banking on the high end for future growth. That is where clustering comes into play.

"UnixWare NonStop Clusters is the only clustering technology for Intel processors that provides a single system image (SSI)," said Tamar Newberger, director of product management for SCO.

SSI lets systems administrators manage multiple servers as if they were one machine. For example, memory and processing power from different machines -- even those offering different performance levels -- can be allocated to one application.

And by 2000, SCO plans to support 32 or more nodes clusters with the new technology, according to Newberger.

Current clustering technology on Intel machines is essentially of the failover type, where one machine picks up processing if another machine fails, Newberger added.

One of SCO's big pitches for UnixWare is that version 7, released in March, is ready for Merced. The OS's memory model, compilers, and commands in UnixWare 7 have been designed to accommodate Merced when it arrives in 2000, said Ray Anderson, senior vice president of marketing at SCO.

So while accommodating current users of its OpenServer operating system, it is also trying to get them to move over to the UnixWare line. To this end, even as SCO launches OpenServer 5.05 in August, it will also officially announce the UnixWare Business Edition, said Anderson.

The Business Edition is designed to have a feature set and pricing that overlaps with OpenServer -- but it will have a few extra features to help entice users over to the UnixWare line, said Anderson.

While OpenServer 5.05 will feature new drivers and performance enhancements, the UnixWare Business Edition will feature the WebTop user interface, which lets users call up applications running on the server from a Web browser.

But SCO might have a hard time getting OpenServer users to move over to UnixWare.

"The operating system part of the sale for VARs (value added resellers) and systems integrators who sell UnixWare and OpenServer is a small percentage of revenues for a systems sale," said Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst with International Data Corp. (IDC). "And once they have applications running on OpenServer, they can take a cookie cutter approach and take the same approach with all the new customers -- so it's going to be hard to convince them to move over to UnixWare."

Today's announcements come on the heels of an IDC report that said that SCO for the fifth year in a row increased its leads in the Unix OS market, with 40.8 percent market share for OpenServer and UnixWare licenses in 1997.

UnixWare unit sales grew at 85.7 percent during the year, compared with overall Unix OS growth of 17.4 percent. Windows NT grew 73.2 percent. In absolute numbers, NT unit shipments were 1.2 million, UnixWare shipments were 65,000 and OpenServer shipments totaled 290,000.

But shipments alone don't tell the whole story, Kusnetzky said. Total revenue for NT last year was $1.3 billion, while total Unix revenue was $2.5 billion. Also, while the average NT installation serves about 25 users, the average Unix installation serves about 50 to 60 users, he noted.

"The growth of UnixWare last year was surprising and shows that they are starting to be able to tell a good business story. They've always had good technology, but increasingly IT buying decisions are driven by business people, not technologists," Kusnetzky said.

Pricing for the Business Edition and clustering technology options will be announced when they are released.

--Marc Ferranti, IDG News Service


Compaq employs slash-and-burn layoff techniques

Munich (June 30, 1998) -- The top European executive at Compaq Computer Corp. today said that integrating the European operations of Compaq and its newly acquired Digital Equipment Corp. unit would result in additional layoffs of between 4,000 and 5,000 people.

Detailing the changes in Europe at a press conference in Munich today, Andreas Barth, senior vice president and general manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said that 500 of the job cuts would come from the company's European manufacturing operations.

Compaq is closing its PC plant in Stirling, Scotland, and merging it into its factory based in Erskine, Scotland, Barth said. The company's Scottish plants -- which also include facilities in the cities of Irvine and Ayr -- will continue to produce some 95 percent of the computers designed for markets in EMEA, Barth said.

Compaq currently employs about 25,500 people in EMEA. Most of the changes affect Europe, according to a Compaq spokesman.

The news of an additional 4,000 to 5,000 layoffs follows yesterday's announcement that Compaq will lay off about 5,000 people at its manufacturing plants worldwide.

Barth also laid out a new European structure, which he said should be in place by Oct. 1, 1998.

"Customers want to get on with this quickly," he said.

Product groups have been restructured to include an expanded enterprise computing group, according to Waldemar Schoch, Compaq marketing manager for communications. The enterprise group now includes what was formerly Compaq's networking group, and the new, high-end products offered by Digital.

An expanded services division has also been added to take over the structure from Digital, Schoch said. This includes outsourcing, networking and systems support as well as customer support for all product groups.

Also new is a marketing and e-commerce group as well as a global accounts group. About 75 percent of the top 200 European companies purchase IT systems through global agreements, Barth said, and companies increasingly want coherent pricing and services on a global basis. Of Compaq's 150 global accounts, 70 are based in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

A new team of European managers also has been appointed, Barth said.

Also at the conference, Compaq Chief Executive Officer Eckhard Pfeiffer reiterated comments he has made at frequent public appearances, stressing Compaq's commitment to "standards-based computing." He again seemed keen to stress that Digital's Alpha architecture is taking a priority at the new Compaq.

"I have met with a lot of Alpha customers over the last few months, and I have been impressed with the strength of their support for Alpha," he said.

Alpha gives Compaq leadership in 64-bit architecture at least two years ahead of Intel Corp.'s first 64-bit chip, Merced, Pfeiffer said. And with the delay in Merced's release, he said, Alpha is more important than ever.

Pfeiffer confirmed that the company will take a US$3 billion charge for in-process technology and $1.7 billion for operational restructuring in 1998.

Compaq has spoken with some 200 customers who want them to continue to support the product, and Compaq believes it will expand its Alpha customer base, Pfeiffer said, though he did not give specifics.

"Digital's biggest hurdle with marketing Alpha was the shadow of uncertainty that hung over the company," Pfeiffer said. The acquisition should change that, he said.

Alpha is ideal for "power-hungry applications" such as data warehousing, high-performance technical computing and Internet commerce, Pfeiffer said, noting that Microsoft is using Alpha as the development platform for 64-bit Windows NT.

Digital Unix is widely regarded as the leader in 64-bit Unix, Pfeiffer said, and it is also the most Windows NT-friendly Unix on the market. Compaq will push to establish it as the standard for 64-bit Unix on Alpha today, and on both Alpha and Merced in the future, he added.

--Mary Lisbeth D'Amico, IDG News Service


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