SCO Rolls Out UnixWare Update, Small Biz Edition
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
The SCO Group is rolling out a bunch of enhancements to its UnixWare variant of the Unix operating system, in the hopes of shoring up its core software business. SCO's legal battles continue, and the recent paucity of licensees for Unix intellectual property under the SCOsource licensing means SCO has to get back to the business of selling Unix on X86 iron. SCO may or may not have a lot of respect with IT buyers and vendors these days, but UnixWare does.
As we reported last week, the new UnixWare 7.1.4 release rolls up a bunch of features that were add-ons to UnixWare until now. UnixWare is based on the Unix SVR5 kernel, just like the prior UnixWare 7.1.3 release was. But the new release has three runtime environments that allow OpenServer Unix, Linux, and Windows applications to run inside UnixWare. (OpenServer is SCO's other Unix, aimed primarily at the low-end, 32-bit markets, where Linux has taken root.) The runtime environments are the OpenServer Kernel Personality (OKP), the Linux Kernel Personality (LKP), and Merge. The latter supports Windows on Linux and now Unix applications, and is a third-party middleware program created by Netraverse. UnixWare 7.1.4 also includes a native Mozilla 1.2.1 browser, as well as support for the Java Standard Edition 1.4.2 SDK and runtime environment, the javaxcomm V2.0 communications API, and the PostgreSQL 7.4.2 and MySQL 3.23.49 open source databases. Support for Samba, OpenSSH, OpenSSL, Apache, Sendmail, Squid, OpenLDAP, and other open source components of UnixWare have been added or upgraded with the release.
The operating system now includes a toolkit for developing Web services applications based on the SOAP and XML protocols. SCO has also announced a broader middleware stack called SCOx Web Services Substrate, which is a layer of software and tools to expose legacy UnixWare applications so they can be componentized and woven into Web services applications. The SCOx software includes the Apache 2.049 Web server, the Tomcat 4.1.30 Java application server, Perl 5.8.3, and PHP 4.3.5. These programs are woven together to create a single deployment platform that is equivalent to that delivered in the Linux operating system, which is a key point. UnixWare has to meet Linux on its own turf and beat it in terms of scalability and reliability. However, SCO's pricing may be a turn off for many companies that are loathe to pay for open source software. A five-session (as opposed to user) license to the SCOx Web services software is free in new UnixWare 7.1.4 license or an upgrade to it; it costs $1,895 for every 10 active Web sessions added that access this software layer.
UnixWare 7.1.4 has improved support for Intel's HyperThreading, a version of simultaneous multithreading that allows a single CPU to look like two processors to the operating system and thereby waste fewer cycles by keeping the chip's instruction pipelines full. The release also has USB printer support and enhanced ATA IDE support that allows disks with capacities greater than 128 GB to be used on a UnixWare box. The software also includes integrated virtual private networking (VPN) software.
Perhaps most important, UnixWare 7.1.4 comes in a Small Business Edition that includes print, file, Web, e-mail, directory, firewall, and proxy servers as well as a relational database (either MySQL or PostgreSQL) all in the box for $599 for a single-user license on a single processor. The street price of that operating system is expected to be in the range of $420. SCO's Unix pricing is based on the number of users, the number of processors, and the amount of main memory, so as users add any of these, the price goes up. Between now and October 31, SCO is offering a five-user license on a single-CPU machine with 1 GB of main memory for that same $599.
UnixWare 7.1.4 is also packaged in a Base Edition (one user, 2 GB of main memory, and one CPU) for $799; a Business Edition (10 users, four processors, and 4 GB of memory) for $1,399; a Departmental Edition (25 users, four processors, 8 GB of memory) for $2,999; an Enterprise Edition (50 users, six processors, and 16 GB of memory) for $4,999; and a Data Center Edition (150 users, eight processors, and 32 GB of memory) for $9,999. Customers with UnixWare 7.1.2 or 7.1.3 have to pay anywhere from $249 to $3,099 to upgrade to UnixWare 7.1.4, depending on their edition and release. SCO is offering price breaks to customers who upgrade now, as part of its SCO Update Service, and is tossing in an additional 10 percent discount on the upgrade to the next release of UnixWare, presumably 7.1.5.
SCO has an installed base of about two million UnixWare and OpenServer customers, by some estimates. If even a small portion of its customers buys upgrades to UnixWare 7.1.4, it can add up to big money. It only takes 4,000 customers spending an average of $2,500 a quarter for SCO to make its $10 million or so a quarter in Unix sales. While this is only about a quarter of the revenue stream that rival Red Hat sees from its Linux business, SCO can probably make money at that level, if it can keep a lid on legal costs and stay focused on retaining its vast Unix installed base. To help its channel of 11,000 partners to sell better against Linux and Windows, SCO is offering partners cobranding materials for e-mail and direct mail marketing campaigns, as well as marketing funds for its premiere partners and rebate programs in North America. SCO did not say how much money was allocated to these endeavors.