NEW YORK Linux enthusiasts are going mainstream, judging by this week's LinuxWorld conference, where proponents said the open-source operating system is ready to make its mark on the telecom carrier and data center worlds.
The Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) announced the creation of technical working groups to develop feature road maps to enable Linux for the enterprise and telecommunications market segments, a move hailed by LinuxWorld keynoter Carla Fiorina, chairman and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard Co.
Fiorina called Linux the "democratization of the innovation of technology" in her Wednesday speech to a room full of geeks, nerds, and executives. "We see HP's role in helping to increase Linux's credibility in the business world," she said. "By joining forces with Compaq we are more powerfully positioned to lead the march toward open standards and Linux than either company could do on its own."
With new working groups, OSDL has moved beyond hardware support of enterprise Linux projects, said OSDL president Ross Mauri. "It now provides a forum for creating vision and guidance to enhance Linux to meet the needs of both the data center and carrier-grade market segments."
Five new OSDL members Alcatel, Cisco, MontaVista Software, Nokia and Toshiba were also announced, bringing to 22 the number of vendors in this global consortium, which includes the likes of IBM, HP, Intel, NEC, Fujitsu and Hitachi.
"Since Linux will be the basis for our next-generation all-IP [Internet Protocol] network infrastructure, we want to ensure that Linux continues to support the features required in carrier-grade environments," said Ari Virtanen, vice president of Nokia Networks.
The goal of the carrier-grade working group is to identify carrier requirements and encourage development of common infrastructure requirements. Specifically, the group will develop a road map for implementing and supporting open- source development efforts to create a stable platform upon which commercial components and services can be deployed. The group will also strive to prevent fragmentation of the Linux kernel.
The mission of the new OSDL working groups is to achieve consistency across Linux distributions and to incorporate advanced Linux functionality into a standard definition. "The creation of these working groups dramatically expands the possibility of applying commercial off-the-shelf software and hardware to carrier-grade environments and enterprise data centers," said Mauri.
Fiorina was bullish on Linux for entertainment, EDA and technical applications. The company introduced a pay-per-use utility pricing program for Linux, unveiled two Linux-based carrier-grade servers and a developer's platform for HP Opencall software.
For its part, Sun Microsystems Inc. announced plans to provide a new Linux version of the iPlanet application server software. Sun said it will increase its support of the open-source OS, which represented more than a quarter of server operating environments in new license shipments in 2000, according to research firm International Data Corp. Meanwhile, IBM Corp. said it has nearly recouped the $1 billion it invested in Linux in 2001. In his Wednesday keynote, IBM Server Group senior vice president and group executive Bill Zeitler said it was money well spent.
Fiorina quoted Giga Group estimates stating that some 30 percent of servers shipped worldwide are Linux-based and that revenues from Linux will be in the $10 billion range in the next three-to-five years. "We certainly believe that Linux has the potential to transform the [computer] industry," said Fiorina.
Referring to the ingrained quality-enhancing peer review process of open-source programming, Fiorina said, The secret to [Linux's] success is based on the belief in what thousands of inventors can do together when you make full use of their talents."