Red Hat and SuSE today continued their Linux-fueled assaults on the enterprise market and proprietary vendor Microsoft with new releases that seek to broaden the open-source operating system’s use in the data-center and replace Microsoft e-mail software and servers.
While Red Hat and SuSE are fierce competitors in the Linux distribution arena, both Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux 3 and SuSE’s new OpenExchange Server 4.1 represent efforts to maintain the strong momentum of Linux in the enterprise.
With its release of Office 2003 — which intertwines Microsoft’s popular programs with the Redmond, Washington-based company’s servers — some analysts believe the software giant is changing its strategy to defend against the Linux onslaught.
However, SuSE CTO Juergen Geck told TechNewsWorld that Microsoft is “absolutely not” any different and is still “fencing it in and holding the cards closely.”
“It seems Microsoft is still struggling to understand they can’t beat Linux,” Geck said. “If they were smart, they would embrace it and put their applications on top. You can’t defend against something with total negligence.”
Sounds Like a System
Both Red Hat and SuSE have outlined long-term plans for Linux that involve more and more pieces of the total IT framework — development tools and desktop software in addition to servers and other clients — and both seem to be heading toward a Linux system, Yankee Group senior analyst Dana Gardner told TechNewsWorld.
“We’re seeing the beginnings of a Linux framework — something that might even compete with the J2EE or .NET platforms,” Gardner said, referring to Web services platforms from Sun and Microsoft.
Gardner, who said both Red Hat and SuSE “fill credible holes in the overall Linux portfolio” with their new products, added that the total Linux system is emerging in far less time than it took Microsoft to move from PCs into corporate data centers.
Linux Growing Up
Red Hat spokesperson Leigh Cantrell Day told TechNewsWorld that Enterprise Linux 3 — based on the new Linux 2.4.21 kernel — is the first phase of the company’s Open Source Architecture roadmap that includes focus on middleware, applications, management and virtualization.
Citing a long list of partners that includes BEA, Fujitsu, Dell, HP, Oracle, Hitachi, NEC and Computer Associates, Red Hat said the new Enterprise Linux 3 supports a greater range of IT deployments and will serve as the “unifying platform,” with support for seven different hardware architectures in both client and server deployments.
Referring to Linux 3 as “a significant achievement in the maturation of open source,” Red Hat also indicated Microsoft is not its only target in its emphasis on scalability, performance and extended system coverage.
“This second-generation solution from Red Hat will strengthen Red Hat’s global foothold in the enterprise and eliminate the need for proprietary Unix,” said Red Hat executive vice president of engineering Paul Cormier in a statement.
SuSE said its OpenExchange Server 4.1, with a release date of November 17th, will bring to Linux a comprehensive groupware, collaboration and messaging tool and is intended for companies of all sizes.
SuSE’s Geck indicated the company will be rolling out “a lot more along the lines of OpenExchange Server 4.1,” which is designed to be compatible with Microsoft’s Outlook. He said SuSE’s longer-term vision for Linux is focused on seamless integration and providing an alternative to Microsoft’s enterprise software.
Geck also said that although it is more open than Microsoft products, open-source software sold through Linux vendors is still not as open as it should be. “When you look at many of these products, they’re still proprietary — everybody has their own approach,” he noted. “That’s something we’ll be countering.”