Utility computing loves Linux

Michael S. Mimoso, Editorial Director

Veritas Software Corp.'s director of Linux strategy, Ranajit Nevatia, gives his blessing to the marriage of utility computing and Linux. At LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in New York this week, Veritas will announce that it's padding its utility computing offerings with an upgrade to its OpForce server-provisioning software. Veritas has also made its Veritas Server Cluster software available on VMware -- which makes Veritas Server Cluster the first high-availability product for VMware. In this interview, Nevatia says Linux is a fine fit for utility computing because it promotes commoditization. He also talks about Linux's proliferation deeper into enterprise infrastructures.

What kind of movement do you foresee for enterprise Linux this year?

Ranajit Nevatia: In 2000, 2001 and even 2002, Linux was on the edge, primarily in specialized applications in core vertical markets. In 2003, it moved to commercial applications, data-intensive applications, especially on the middle tier and the database tier in the financial services market, and the telecommunications market as well. What we are seeing now is that success proliferating into other industries as well. We think 2004 is going to be the year of Linux, when it comes to [the] data center and enterprise applications.

Why does utility computing simplify the management of Linux?

Nevatia: Linux tends to get distributed very fast, and you could be managing more servers

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than if you had a big iron. Linux changes fast as well, and managing those changes becomes a demanding task that can challenge the TCO benefits of Linux.

Veritas' upgrade of its OpForce server-provisioning tool adds support for SuSE Linux. How important is Novell's acquisition of SuSE for Linux?

Nevatia: In the past, we have supported Windows, Solaris and Red Hat. With this announcement, we are adding support for SuSE Linux.

Our strategy was always to support more than one Linux distribution. SuSE is the No. 2 distributor in the market [behind Red Hat], with a strong presence in Europe and Asia. With Novell, they get marketing exposure they need. SuSE has always been known as a fine engineering company, but it has not been able to market itself worldwide. Novell gives it that exposure, and gives it more feet on the street and more mind share. Overall, it's good for the industry and gives customers more to choose from.

When customers broach the subject of introducing Linux into their environments, what questions are they asking?

Nevatia: Most of the concerns our customers have are about reliability, performance and availability. Customers ask us most often: 'When we get our servers deployed in a new environment, will we be able to back up in the same way, not just daily, but hourly or up to the minute, and be able to recover those transactions as well?' That capability allows customers to trust their applications to Linux. The same goes for their backup questions.

Are they asking about manageability?

Nevatia: That's the second area they ask about -- whether they can manage their data on a Linux box. In the information age, data is growing fast, and it's unmanageable without tools that make it easy to consolidate data on Linux and manage it for a long period of time.

Now we are addressing high availability from a clustering perspective through the utility computing concept. Companies want to better utilize all the hardware they bought during the dot-com boom. They're not doing that to the fullest extent. With our utility method, we provide more utilization for our customers, enabling them to transfer resources to where they need them, when they need them, and realize the cost benefits of their hardware.

Why is Linux a winner when it comes to utility computing?

Nevatia: Utility computing makes hardware less relevant. It doesn't matter if it's proprietary, a mainframe or a commodity Intel box. The operating system doesn't matter either, and that makes Linux a winner. You don't care what you're running as long as you reach your service levels. Utility computing levels the playing field for Linux. Linux promotes commoditization, and it comes out a winner.

What kind of conversations are you having with customers regarding the SCO Group's legal threats against commercial Linux users?

Nevatia: We hear a lot about it, but it has not affected most of our customers' strategies. Our own strategy has not changed yet. I think we're all waiting for the outcome. People are going on with business as usual. This is the case for us and our customers.


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