Linux at the (Server)Beach - page 2
Automation and Tux Walking Down the Shore
One of the biggest selling points of Linux, besides it's liberal licencing, is its capability to be molded into almost any task. This is completely opposite of the way Microsoft approaches a business solution.
What Microsoft does, Yoo explained, is perform heavy research on what member companies of a certain vertical need. For instance, ISPs could be one such vertical. After researching the business practices and technical needs of the ISPs, Microsoft will then go back into the shop and deliver a product that will provide all ISPs about 80 percent, on average, of the functionality they need to operate. In other words, the greatest common denominator. Naturally, the solution offered by Microsoft will mesh better with some ISPs than others. For the companies whose needs diverge significantly from the Microsoft solution, they have a choice: develop additional software to bridge the gap or modify their own business practices to adjust to what the Microsoft solution can do.
This approach, Yoo says, is used for all verticals Microsoft courts, and for the most part the Redmond company does do very effective research.
Linux, on the other hand, has no centralized approach to solutions. The tool is simply there, like a giant Swiss army knife, ready to be molded to meet the exact needs of the company that wants to use it.
With the power and flexability of Linux, it is very possible to get the platform to meet your company's exact needs--so there's no need to create additional software or change the way you've been doing business just for a piece of software's limitations. But the catch is, you need to figure out how Linux can provide that solution. There is no centralized point that says, here is how you do this, or that, in an ISP.
"It would be great," Yoo added, "to unify all of this so we can get some synergy in the verticals."
Linux's diversity can be a handicap, Yoo feels, especially since someone trying to come up with a solution may find "15,000 ways to do the same thing." This same diversity among desktop environments is what Yoo believes keeps Linux from succeeding faster on the desktop.
Still, there are some signs of improvement. Yoo said that ServerBeach has extensive agreements with Red Hat and Ximian to provide technical support. Right now, he added, Red Hat, though very good at providing support for specific applications, is still not very solutions-oriented.
"Red Hat and the Linux community cares about the technology," Yoo said, "not how it should provide solutions."
As more customers like ServerBeach continue to use Linux and adjust it to their needs, it will be interesting to note how Red Hat and the other Linux vendors respond to this need for solution providing.