But Wait, There's More
Micro Focus Supports 64-Bit Linux-Itanium Combo for COBOL
Application development tool provider Micro Focus announced last week that it is supporting a 64-bit version of its COBOL tools on platforms using Intel's Itanium processors.
Micro Focus made the announcement at Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The company's Server Express COBOL development and deployment environment for various 64-bit Unix platforms and 32-bit Linux platforms has now been ported to run on Itanium servers with Linux. The company has already announced Server Express support for HP-UX running on Itanium; neither AIX nor Solaris are available on Itanium, so Micro Focus cannot offer support for these platforms on Intel's Itanium processors. The company is working on extending Server Express to the 64-bit Pentium, Xeon, and Opteron variants of the X86 architecture.
Avnet to Sell and Support Novell's Linux and Related Products
IT distributor Avnet is one of the key players in the IT market, and it has just expanded its distribution agreement with commercial Linux distro Novell.
Specifically, the Avnet Partner Solutions unit of the company, which is based in San Antonio and which pushes IBM server, storage, and software products, has inked a deal with Novell to offer Novell's complete Linux server stack on IBM's eServer family of servers. The deal includes SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 as well as the forthcoming Open Enterprise Server, which offers both Linux and NetWare functionality in a single platform. By partnering with Novell, Avnet's downstream partners will now have access to Novell's PartnerNet programs for a full year at no cost, which includes presales and technical resources to help partners figure out Linux and the solutions they can sell based on it. Avnet is also offering its own training and demand-generation campaigns, and is, like many players in the market, interested in pushing Linux on IBM's eServers as an alternative to Unix on RISC iron from Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems.
Akibia Expands from Unix to Linux Support Services
Akibia, a Westborough, Massachusetts, company that has been providing technical and migration support services for Unix environments for 17 years, has broadened its product line to include similar services for the Linux platform.
Considering the substantial synergies between Unix and Linux, this move by Akibia makes perfect sense. The company believes that its expertise in Unix and now Linux as well as the fact that it can provide a single point of contact for customers who want tech support or migration services will help it win customers in a Linux market where everybody is trying to get a piece of this action. (In the Linux market, tech support and migration services are essentially the only pieces of the action, in fact, because Linux software is free and the X86 iron it typically runs on has only modest margins.)
Linux Assist is the name of Akibia's 24/7, Level 1 through Level 3 tech support offering, which covers current and past versions of Red Hat and Novell Linuxes. The company is also offering Unix-to-Linux assessment and migration services, and because of its neutral position on Unix and Linux, believes it can get an edge over other services companies (like the service units of IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Hewlett-Packard, who are all obviously biased toward their own Unix and Linux offerings and against those of their competitors. The company is also providing training for shops that move from Unix to Linux, so programmers, administrators, and other IT professionals can get certified on Linux. Akibia's training is focused on four areas: Unix-to-Linux migration, Linux system administration, Linux performance, and high availability clustering.
IBM Contributes 30 Projects to SourceForge
For all of its desire to be the patent-holding king of the world, Big Blue is well aware that to be perceived as part of the open source community, it has to give away some intellectual property every now and then. That is why IBM has released more than 30 software projects on SourceForge. IBM says it has contributed some 120 different collaborative projects to the open source community; the company has obviously participated formally (or its employees have done so informally) on many more projects. Two of the projects that were singled out for specific mention on SourceForge were the Jikes Java compiler and the Life Science Identifier, which scans networks at healthcare companies for biologically significant data. (This sounds like a bad idea on first reading, considering the sensitivity with which medical records are supposed to be treated.)
In addition to its SourceForge donations, IBM has also seen the light on the PHP development language for Web applications, after realizing about 40 percent of the Web programming tools sold today are based on PHP, not Java or .NET. To that end, IBM has signed a partnership with Zend Technologies, the creator of the PHP language. IBM is throwing in the "Derby" open source variant of its Cloudscape database into the partnership, which was already donated to the Apache Software Foundation and which will now be married with Zend's PHP tools to create an integrated Web application environment that will be supported commercially by Zend. The two companies will also eventually support DB2 as a back-end database with a commercial product. IBM has also launched PHP areas on its developerWorks site, which has 4.5 million registered users.
Disk Array Sales Taper Off in Q4 2004
For the first time in a long time, sales of internal disk arrays embedded inside servers has buoyed the overall market for disk arrays, say the analysts at IDC. While disk capacity purchases are growing at a very fast clip, the price/performance pressure among makers of disk arrays is intense, and it is quite remarkable there is any revenue growth at all. In the fourth quarter, worldwide disk array sales were up 1.8 percent to $5.8 billion, but sales of external disk arrays only grew by a scant 1 percent to reach $3.8 billion. The only reason there was any growth at all is because a significant boost in server sales with embedded disk arrays helped push sales. Even still, embedded array sales were not spectacular, with sales of just under $2 billion, up 4 percent compared to this time last year. The disk array market remains one of the toughest markets in IT, and IDC said sales in the final quarter of 2004 were weaker than expected.
For the full year, the aggregate disk array market was up 3.2 percent to $20.9 billion. Hewlett-Packard had the top spot in revenue rankings, with $4.9 billion in sales, even though its sales slipped by 5.6 percent. (HP's entry and midrange disk array business has been problematic since the Compaq merger, and its products were looking a little long in the tooth until they were refreshed in mid-year.) IBM, which has been pumping out various storage subsystems based on its Power5 family of servers throughout the second half of 2004, was able to boost its sales by 1.3 percent to $4.3 billion. However, in the external disk array market, where these Power5 products are sold, IBM's sales in 2004 declined by 4.3 percent--almost as bad as HP's own 6.3 percent decline in external array sales. IBM has its own issues, so don't think it is just HP. EMC and Dell partnered a year and a half ago to sell entry and midrange disk arrays, and that partnership has worked well--for now, at least. EMC boosted its revenue by 18.4 percent in the worldwide disk array market to just under $3 billion, and Dell saw 17.3 percent growth to hit just over $1.5 billion in 2004. Hitachi, which has Sun Microsystems and HP as its resellers for high-end arrays, was the number five disk array storage vendor in 2004, with $1.3 billion in sales and a fraction of a percent of growth. Sun slipped behind Hitachi after seeing a 4.7 percent decline in sales in 2004; it sold some $1.2 billion in disk arrays last year.
The network-attached storage (NAS) market (which includes Ethernet-based as well as iSCSI-based external arrays) accounted for $2.4 billion in sales in the fourth quarter of 2004, growing 11.6 percent. This is a hotly-contested market, with EMC, HP, IBM, and Network Appliance, the creator of the NAS idea, fighting for market share.
How About Slack/400?
As we reported last week, some of the key people behind the Slackware variant of the Linux operating system announced a version of Slackware for IBM's System/390 and zSeries mainframes. Slackware and Debian offer a free version of Linux for mainframes, while Red Hat and Novell, charge a lot of money for their mainframe Linuxes. Red Hat and Novell also charge big bucks for iSeries and i5 implementations of their Linux, which begs the question: How about Slack/400?
The Slack Project's X86 and 390 ports are based on the Linux 2.4.26 kernel, and they run in 32-bit mode on X86 systems and 31-bit mode on the mainframes. The 64-bit Linux 2.6 kernel is still in beta support, but some intrepid iSeries bitwiddlers could get involved now and probably create a Slack/400 port in fairly short order based on the Slack/390 team's experience. The iSeries base needs an alternative to Red Hat and Novell, which are pretty costly for companies that just want to play or do infrastructure workloads on Linux partitions.