Linux will be the underpinning for corporate infrastructures for at least the next two decades, predicts Greg Mancusi-Ungaro, Linux server marketing director for Novell. To keep the Linux ball rolling, Novell is working to help businesses extend Linux beyond the data center. On the eve of the LinuxWorld Expo & Conference in Boston, Mancusi-Ungaro discussed Novell's roadmap for Linux in the data center for the next year and its upcoming release of Novell Open Enterprise Server, which will mesh Novell NetWare with SuSE Linux.
Before discussing the year ahead, could you recap the important developments for Novell in 2004?
Greg Mancusi-Ungaro: Of course, the big news in 2004 was Novell's acquisition of SuSE Linux and the release of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, the first kernel 2.6-class enterprise server operating system available. Until Red Hat ships its RHEL 4 release, it is and will be the only 2.6 operating system available commercially.
In the market, we saw the movement of Linux servers out beyond their traditional file, print and Web infrastructure deployments into a more centralized location within an infrastructure. Linux servers were used to host many corporate applications in 2004, most notably Oracle. Also, there was a lot of excitement among our corporate clients about being able to take advantage of the scalability and power of the 2.6 kernel as an application hosting platform.
What are the new horizons for Linux on the server in 2005?
Mancusi-Ungaro: Many companies are past the proof-of-concept stage and into deployment. It's not a question of whether to use Linux, but where and how. I expect to see much more usage of Linux within the data center and in application hosting. We'll see Linux deployed as the platform for enterprise infrastructure. I think all of the technology tools are in place today for Linux: grid, cluster, virtualization, etc. Most importantly, Linux will grow from being a commonly-deployed foundation to host applications to a technology used to power and underpin enterprise infrastructures.
Where will Novell fit into this movement?
Mancusi-Ungaro: Novell will bring to market another server-class product called Novell Open Enterprise Server. It will be the first product to deliver to Linux environments highly scalable, easily manageable enterprise services for directory management, for file and print and for security and identity.
Enterprise class services have not been able to run on the Linux kernel previously. With the release of this product, those resources will be available. We have had tremendous response from our beta customers about it because it's an integrated suite of enterprise networking services they can use to expand Linux beyond database hosting in the data center all the way to their infrastructure. It will enable them to run a network of Netware and SuSE Linux servers under one management system.
Will the coming of age of enterprise-class services for Linux spur migrations?
Mancusi-Ungaro: More than a migration, it will be more like a revolution.
In 2005, the primary movement will be from Unix to Linux as companies start looking carefully at containing costs and see the fallacy of maintaining large Unix infrastructures. In certain sectors -- like financial, government or manufacturing –companies are looking at all their high-priced, difficult-to-maintain Unix systems and wanting to get away from them. They know now that they can move onto the Linux platform quite easily, thanks to the emergence of real clustering and the 2 6 kernel. We're seeing deployment ramping up.
The other important dynamic is the demand for more skill and server consolidation. Today, the typical IT department is running a couple flavors of Unix, some Windows, some (Novell) Netware, etc. They want to reduce the number of flavors that they have to support. Here is where a tool like SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 comes into its own. You can run SuSE 9 on virtually every corporate platform, from legacy mainframe hardware all the way down to the desktop. You can run it on clusters, on stacks, on towers. It saves companies from employing IT specialists to support seven or eight different operating systems.
Will Linux play well as more companies venture into 64-bit computing?
Mancusi-Ungaro: Sixty-four bit computing is gaining a toehold, and grids, clustering and virtualization are going to drive the market. Linux is right there with them. In terms of virtualization, the Linux 2.6 tools like UML (user mode Linux) are allowing different loads to count on one box that in a way could previously could not be done on Linux. The 2.6 kernel makes Linux a viable alternative.
What will be some challenges for companies that extend Linux beyond the data center?
Mancusi-Ungaro: Management is going to be a key factor for those who use Linux across multiple data centers or as an enterprise infrastructure. That's why Novell will place a great focus in 2005 on our ZENworks for Servers content and application management services. We see it as being a product that enables enterprise deployments. Without a solid centrally-manageable suite of tools for IT, deploying Linux can start to lead to increased administrative costs.