Taken directly from USA Today.
By Byron Acohido, USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO — Not long ago, you couldn't find two bigger Linux bashers than Microsoft and Sun Microsystems. But the tech giants showed up at the LinuxWorld conference Tuesday to join the party.
They came espousing a new attitude about businesses considering Linux, the free open-source operating system, to replace Microsoft and Sun computer servers. Instead of deriding the operating system, as they have often done, Sun announced a line of Linux-based servers. And Microsoft had a booth where employees described Microsoft products that compete with Linux.
They have no choice. More companies are using Linux for computing chores. Linux accounts for about 27% of computer server software shipments, up from zilch five years ago, says IDC. Companies from Hollywood to Wall Street are increasingly using Linux .
The conference was swarming with companies checking out Linux.
Greg Moses, a technician for Idaho-based paper goods maker, Potlatch, was dispatched to "examine the alternatives." His company recently agreed to a new three-year Microsoft software license for $1.5 million. "We know it's not possible to get completely away from (Microsoft's) Windows," says Moses, "But next time around, if we could eliminate Windows 2000 (server) or Office, one or the other, that would be fine."
Those are scary words for Microsoft, which is trying to take its software deeper into corporate computing. It came to LinuxWorld to reach out to companies and software developers increasingly seduced by Linux.
"It's about building new bridges," says Peter Houston, Microsoft Windows server products director.
At Microsoft's booth, the first for Microsoft in the five years LinuxWorld has been held, employees demonstrated tools that allow business programs running on the Unix operating system, from which Linux is derived, to tie into Windows, too. Microsoft says businesses will find it more convenient to use its software for everything from e-mail to e-commerce to building Web services.
But instead of pitching the merit of its package of products to companies evaluating Linux, Microsoft has mainly spread fear, uncertainty and doubt — about Linux, says Aberdeen Group analyst Bill Claybrook.
"If Microsoft stops making naive comments about Linux and keeps doing what they're starting to do, that will get them somewhere," says Claybrook.
Sun has a different challenge. Like rivals IBM and Hewlett-Packard, it makes both hardware and software. Its Unix-based Sun Solaris system is the market leader for high-end computing chores.
But many customers, such as the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanographic Center, which provides weather and ocean analysis for the Navy and Air Force, have starting migrating to Linux on servers built around inexpensive Intel processing chips. "Sun has been a little slow jumping on the Linux bandwagon," says Michael Corcoran the center's information specialist.
Corcoran and others came to see how Sun intends to fold Linux into its product line. While Sun unveiled a new Linux server based on Intel chips, IBM and Hewlett-Packard announced marketing pushes for Linux servers they've been selling for more than two years.
"We think there's no reason not to go to Sun to get your Linux server," Sun CEO Scott McNealy told an overflow crowd, in delivering a keynote address.
It remains to be seen whether Sun can sell its Linux server without unduly eroding sales of its bread-and-butter Unix servers.
"Sun is in a tough spot. They're watching their market decline, under attack from Windows on one side and Linux on the other," says IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky. "They're trying to co-opt the energy of Linux to drive their business forward."