Vendors Gear Up for LinuxWorld

New vendor gimmicks: A $1M development contest, and Sun servers on eBay

August 5, 2004

3 Min Read
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Roll up! Roll up! Its the annual open-source jamboree in San Francisco this week, and the major vendors are pulling out all the stops to get the publicity edge on their Linux rivals.

This morning, for example, Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) announced that it is auctioning off a pile of stuff on eBay -- but we're not talking about the latest tickets to Barry Manilow at Arrowhead Pond. No, Sun is auctioning -- you guessed it -- servers. These include Sun Fire V20z and V40z servers, as well as a three-year subscription to the Solaris operating system.

Timed to coincide with the LinuxWorld event, bidding starts at 1 cent, according to Sun. The series of one-day auctions will run all week.

Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) (NYSE: CA) is another firm that is using the LinuxWorld event to garner some much-needed good publicity. Later today, the firm will throw down “a million dollar challenge” for software developers to build a database migration toolkit (see CA Unveils Open Source Challenge). The winner will get (duh!) $1 million.

Of course, there is method to all this madness. CA, for its part, is obviously keen to generate interest in its Ingres database product [ed. note: named, of course, after the 19th century French painter], which is somewhat overshadowed by the software vendor’s extensive portfolio of system management and security offerings. If developers can build effective migration tools, then the next stage, presumably, could see users moving away from IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), and Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) databases -- or from MySQL AB -- onto the Ingres platform.Sun, for its part, started experimenting with eBay back in June. But, if you hope to get hold of a server for less than the price of a popsicle, forget it. In a July auction of Sun Fire V40z machines, nearly one hundred bids were received and the average selling price was $5,500. List price starts at $8,495 for Sun Fire V40z.

IBM, however, is still reveling in its role as the boss of the open-source movement. Like a capo di capo showing off his wealth at a family wedding, L'Azzurro Grande has been throwing its weighty technology around at LinuxWorld.

Yesterday, the company donated more than half a million lines of relational database code to the Apache Software Foundation, which supports open-source projects (see IBM Donates to Open Source Community). The donation, reportedly worth $85 million, consists of “Derby," a copy of its Cloudscape relational database product. According to the vendor, the deal is designed to boost development of Java applications. To date, IBM has spent more than $1 billion on promoting Linux.

But, of course, the shadow looming over all these announcements is Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT). In order to compete with Microsoft, open-source supporters need to encourage more application development for open-source platforms.

In the religious war between proprietary and non-proprietary operating systems, the thinking is that if you can win over the developers, then selling new products to users will be so much easier. Although prices for servers and mainframes are currently falling, one area where they are actually rising is in the Linux space. Research released earlier this year by analyst firm IDC reported that the average selling price of a Linux server has grown 7 percent year-on-year (see Get Set for Server Savings). Suddenly, all this largesse makes perfect sense.Certainly, interest in Linux is growing, with many companies seeing the technology as a low-cost, secure alternative to the proprietary software offered by the likes of Microsoft. In a poll conducted by NDCF earlier this year, three quarters of respondents were either Linux users, or planning to deploy the technology (see NDCF Linux Poll).

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-gen Data Center Forum

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