The Linux juggernaut will set its course straight for the heart of the enterprise this week with major initiatives from Intel, Oracle, Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, among others.
Intel will announce at LinuxWorld in San Jose, on Tuesday it has tapped VA Research, a Linux hardware and software original equipment manufacturer in California, to take the lead in developing a standard Linux operating system kernel for its IA-64 processors. It is expected the kernel will be compliant with Linux Standards Base (LSB).
The LSB is a group of companies that oversees the standardisation of technologies such as kernels, libraries, and directory services.
Although the Linux OS is highly praised for its stability, even Linux vendors admit it will take more for the upstart OS to scale beyond its use as a file-and-print server.
"It is capable of being a much larger server, but it is missing the networking management tools," said Robert Young, CEO of Red Hat Software.
"Without the calibre of Computer Associates' Unicenter, Tivoli network management tools, [and] database server technologies, people will find it better to manage a bunch of Sun boxes instead of Linux boxes."
Young may be more than just prescient. CA plans to announce Red Hat Linux support for its Unicenter TNG enterprise management platform this week, and sources say Oracle is set to announce Oracle8i support for both Red Hat and Caldera versions of the Linux OS.
California-based S.u.S.E. is also working on partnering with vendors in this space in the near future, according to Mark Torres, president of S.u.S.E.
"All the enterprise plays are coming to market and the biggest place for Linux is middleware and applications. It makes sense that people would need something to manage those apps," Torres said.
Also pushing the Linux scalability envelope this week is Pacific HiTech, which plans to unveil a high-availability Linux clustering solution, called TurboLinux Cluster Web Server, for the Intel platform at LinuxWorld.
Shipping in May, the Web application server and operating system bundle scales from two to as many as 30 to 40 servers, and includes functions for automatic load balancing and fault tolerance, according to Pacific HiTech officials.
HP also plans to announce wider Linux support in its systems, software, and services. Its PA-RISC servers are the latest HP products to add support.
The announcement follows similar moves made recently by IBM and Compaq. IBM will also announce its intent to deliver a version of WebSphere for Linux.
Sun announced last week that it will offer board-level solutions to a select number of system integrators to assist them in building Linux solutions for its Sparc platform.
According to Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at IDC, major OEM support for Linux could play a key role in encouraging more widespread acceptance of the operating system.
"At this point, Linux appeals to small Internet service providers, the technical community, and some independent software vendors and value-added resellers who serve small businesses," Kusnetzky said. "Support offered by HP and other suppliers, IBM in particular, could be a catalyst. Larger organisations might feel comfortable enough that they just might take another look at Linux."