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Modeling Linux in the Enterprise

An Expo with an Enterprise in the Center

  • January 30, 2003
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

If you put together a model of "enterprise Linux," what would it look like? In the middle of the LinuxWorld/NY show floor, vendors and open source projects worked together on presenting their vision. The mock enterprise, "Acme Financial Services," spanned a front office, data center, remote office, Internet development center, and even a theater.

"Two types of people are stopping by here: corporate IT, and people trying to get open source projects done," said Douglas Mackbee of Wild Open Source.

Wild Open Source coordinated the Enterprise Solution Center (ESC) demo, under sponsorship from Linux International, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, NEC, Oracle, Sybase, and LinuxWorld show manager IDG.

The large Linux demo used hardware and software from open source projects and vendor sponsors alike. Collaborators chose a mix of different Linux distributions, including SuSE, Debian, and a number of Red Hat variants.

"We wanted to show that 'enterprise Linux' isn't about displacing everything that you have. It's about using open souce wherever it makes sense," maintained Wild Open Source President Henry L. Hall.

The Internet development center depicted a hypothetical migration from the Microsoft platform to Apache Web server, due to licensing issues.

The front office featured desktop Linux applications like OpenOffice and the Evolution mail client. In the data center, the "Acme" enterprise ran four different Itanium servers - a quad and three two-way systems -- plus a number of Xeon MP servers, Mackbee said. Back office apps included CRM, ERP, and database systems.

Acme's remote office housed devices like an iPAQ handheld, a laptop, and a desktop PC, all attached to a wireless LAN.

The ESC surprised many corporate IT types, according to Mackbee. "A lot of people don't even realize that Oracle runs on Linux. One guy saw the Sybase apps and said, 'I didn't know that Sybase is into Linux.'

"People were also surprised that Open Office does a good job of exchanging information with Microsoft Office - and that the Evolution client looks a lot like Outlook."

Open source projects got advice, too. "One project guy came in and said, 'I have all the gear, but I need help putting it together,'" according to Mackbee.

"HP said, 'Here's how to make the (hardware) connections.' Intel gave him some kernel parameters. A couple of hours later, he returned, and said, 'It worked! I can't believe it. You guys are great!'"

Vendors and open source projects delivered demos at the booths. Experts congregated in the theater to give panel presentations. The 20-or-so topics included enterprise integration with Samba; Linux and IA64; advanced storage and data solutions; and wireless/remote solutions, for example.

"Next year, we want to involve even more open source projects. We're hoping to be able to provide some money to help out with things like travel expenses," said Hall.

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