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Unisys, SAP Linux Pact Expected Next Week

Unisys Moves Ahead

  • February 18, 2005
  • By Jacqueline Emigh
The announcement of a Linux deal between Unisys and SAP, originally slated for this week's LinuxWorld, has now been rescheduled to next week, LinuxPlanet has been told.

Meanwhile, Unisys is forging ahead with its growing commitment to enterprise Linux anyway, rolling out both a Red Hat partnership and the "Tux Invitational" open source code contest during this year's East Coast edition of the major Linux fest.

Unisys initially planned to issue a press release about the SAP pact at Wednesday, February 16. But then a decision was made to "defer" the announcement with SAP until next week, a Unisys spokesperson said Thursday.

The alliance between the two vendors will give enterprise customers a way to migrate their SAP implementations from other Unix platforms to Linux, according to the spokesperson.

More specifically, during a pre-briefing before the show, Derek Rodner, Unisys' senior marketing manager for Linux enterprise systems, told LinuxPlanet that Unisys and SAP plan to co-develop an Itanium-2-based SAP implementation. "Together, we will deliver SAP on the ES7000," Rodner said.

Unisys began making big changes to its Unisys strategy last year, starting with an announcement at LinuxWorld San Francisco that its Itanium 2-based ES7000 servers would be migrated to both Red Hat and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES).

Up to that point, Unisys had provided director support only for Microsoft Windows on its PC servers, although implementations of SLES and SCO Linux had been available on Unisys servers through referrals to Unisys partners.

In November of 2004, Unisys followed up the announcement made earlier in San Francisco by adding a hybrid 32-/64-bit platform for Windows and Linux.

Then, at LinuxWorld Boston this week, Unisys announced that it had become one of the first companies to achieve Red Hat Linux Enterprise (RHEL) 4 certification on both 32- and 64-bit systems with up to 32 processors. RHEL 4 also debuted this week. Like SLES 9, a platform also supported by Unisys, RHEL 4 uses the Linux 2.6 kernel.

In another announcement at this week's show, Unisys unveiled the "Tux Invitational." Billed by Unisys as an "Olympics of open source programming," the contest will give students and colleges a chance to compete and win prizes for software projects developed using the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) Data Center Linux Technical Capabilities

How are the three Unisys announcements connected? "Our goal is to focus on the entire Linux enterprise ecosystems: the hardware, middleware, and application development," Rodner told Linux Planet.

With the 'Tux Invitational," Unisys plans to encourage "future leaders" of the software industry to learn to write applications in Linux open source code, he said. "Plus, it should be a lot of fun," he noted.

Universities expected to field teams in the Invitational include the University of Michigan; University of New Jersey; University of California, Irvine; Pennsylvania-based Drexel University; and New York State-based Clarkson University. Winning universities will receive an 8-way ES7000 with Itanium 2 processors operating SLES 9. First-place student teams will bring home PCs; Playstation PSPs; and Apple iPods.

The winners will be chosen by a panel of six judges, to include Tim Witham, CTO, OSDL, and David Houseman, CTO, Unisys. Judging will be based both on written essays and the "creativity, completeness, and usability" of the code. Unisys intends to name the winners at LinuxWorld San Francisco later this year.

Within OSDL, Unisys belongs to a data center Linux subgroup, which is working on code to support the dynamic partitioning capabilities in the 2.6 kernel.

Some industry analysts have urged that Unisys should become involved in both open source activities and partnerships with other vendors in order to make headway in the high-end Linux space.

"The Linux server market is dominated by smaller, one- to four-way systems. Unisys must build an ecosystem of partners and stimulate the expansion of the more than eight-way tier to exploit this new tier," wrote Carl Claunch, an analyst at Garner Group, in a recent report.

"Unisys' competitors have a big lead in establishing the necessary partnerships; this will be the biggest challenge to overcome before Unisys can succeed with its Linux initiative," according to Claunch.

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