Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Vaibhaw Pandey

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Linux Containers

Open Source Cloud: Article

What's new with HP's open source efforts

Can HP resist the pressures from Microsoft or will HP cave in as IBM did with OS/2?

(LinuxWorld) — This week's story is about how Linux is faring at post-merger/post-Bruce Perens Hewlett-Packard. First, a brief detour to make clear why that's important. I want to show you what Microsoft hopes Linux's future will be like.

Warpstock 2002 was held at the Renaissance Hotel in Austin, Texas. In some ways it was like any other computer conference: technical sessions, exhibition booths, and after-hours camaraderie. In other ways it was more like a wake or a reunion than computer conference. There were just over 100 loyal and faithful OS/2 survivalists in attendance. None dared hope the hotel's name was an omen.

Since David Barnes, the phenomenal "king of the shootouts," the man who single-handedly led Microsoft to the conclusion they could better market NT by not going mano a mano against him and OS/2, is once again an IBM employee and working in the Austin area, it seemed natural that he be a keynote speaker at the event. Unfortunately, he was out of town the weekend of the show.

My older, wiser, better-looking brother, who still supports his product on OS/2 was one of them. He very much enjoyed the conference and sat in on every session he possibly could. I sat with him in several of them.

Surprisingly, at least to me, there is still serious work being done with OS/2. Off the record, I heard an IBMer claim there were still 5 million licensed seats out there. My brother says that is down from 15 or 20 million at its peak. He also noted that the monthly meetings of the DFW OS/2 User Group in the mid-90's were better attended than the show.

Missing completely — at least as far as I could tell — were recent converts to the OS/2 way. Most of the crowd was my age or older and everyone I spoke to was a longtime OS/2 user. The saddest thing I saw was the raffling of OS/2 memorabilia when the winning ticket holder said "I have no use for that," and left the prize unclaimed. This is exactly the future that Microsoft's best brains are planning for Linux.

A word with the open source man at HP

As a result of its recently concluded merger with Compaq, Hewlett-Packard is now the largest Microsoft customer in the world. More than a few wags in the GNU/Linux and open source worlds have begun to wonder what effect the merger would have on how HP copes with the revolution. Coupled with the recent departure of Bruce Perens from HP, it has become an even more urgent question. To help dispel the seeds of doubt and worry, I asked for a little telephone time with Martin Fink to discuss the issues. Fink is not only the man who hired Perens for HP, he is HPs vice president and CTO of Business Critical Systems.

I visited with Fink last week and the first question out of my mouth was exactly that: how has the merger and the departure of Perens changed HP's Linux strategy. Fink responded by first outlining the pre-merger strategy at both HP and Compaq. At HP, there was a focus on industry-standard 32-bit and 64-bit Intel platforms as well as their own manageability and high-availability efforts. HP was not a leader in the 32-bit realm but has been on Itanium. At Compaq, the Proliant line gave them a leadership position the world of 32-bit boxes. Fink said the Linux portion of the Proliant sales is "delivering $1 billion of business," adding "it represents 15 percent of the overall Proliant business." He said HP estimates that the Linux share will rise to 20 percent in the next 12 to 18 months.

Fink points out that the pre-merger HP emphasis on Itanium and Compaq's leadership in the 32-bit world are perfect complements for each other in the post-merger firm. Nevertheless, he also points out that there will be changes ahead. With both the Alpha chip and Tandem's Non-stop computers scheduled to be transitioned to IA-64, the Linux on Alpha will no longer be a driving force.

Fink said "there was a contingent of high-performance technical computing that just loved the Alpha chip and the combination of a 64-bit Linux on high performing Alpha was really attractive for that niche market." Post-merger, Fink added, "You can expect that for those customers who have a legacy need to continue to have Linux on Alpha, we'll continue to support that, but you'll also see that we are not going to emphasize, push, or sell hard on Linux on alpha going forward."

I asked Fink if the merger was an issue with Perens' departure. He said no, that it was a mismatch of Perens' goals and those of HP's that led to Perens leaving.

Fink hired Perens about two years ago as a champion of open source within the company. Over the past six or eight months, he noted, Perens interests turned more to a role as a political activist than an open source champion. He noted that in the latter role, "Bruce absolutely did that five stars all the way. He was involved in virtually every significant open source project that was going on within HP."

Fink went on to say that it wasn't any single event that led to the split, noting that Perens was becoming more interested the anti-DMCA effort, spending time on Capitol Hill, and worrying about the patent issues before the W3C. He said "It wasn't as though any one of those events was 'ok, that's it, we're done.' It was the over time shift from open source champion to political activism."

Microsoft pressuring HP?

I tried a surprise question, asking Fink "Do your OEM licenses with Microsoft preclude the possibility of you offering dual-boot laptop and desktop boxes?" The answer was just as swift, Fink simply said, "I can't answer (questions about) the details of licenses we have with Microsoft."

I followed up with a question about how being Microsoft's largest customer might inhibit HP's Linux plays. He said, "Let's not kid ourselves... You don't sit in a meeting with Microsoft and Microsoft is all peachy keen and all happy about the fact that we are doing Linux and open source stuff."

He went on to say that Microsoft needs to compete by improving their programs and projects. He also pointed out that more than 90 percent of its customers come in the door knowing which platform and which app they want to use to solve their problem. If they say Windows, HP does Windows. If they say Linux, HP is there.

Fink told me that he gets a similar question — mainly from HP employees — more than the Windows version: "How can you be investing in HP-UX and care about Linux?" He added "We've got a huge business with HP-UX. We've got customers that are extremely loyal... You don't take, for example, a customer like Home Depot that has HP-UX deployed through their whole company, through all of their stores, and say 'By the end of the year you better be on Linux or I am out of here.'"

The real answer according to Fink is that post-merger HP is "very adept at managing multiple environments." He cited VMS support in addition to HP-UX, and Tandem in addition to the others. Making the point that it's not just a Windows versus Linux world for HP these days.

My concluding question to Fink was how — and if — the role of open source champion would now be filled at HP. Basically he said the role would be split into two: one to maintain the connection with the open source community and the other the connection to business management. Fink himself will handle the business side and Samba project leader/HP employee Jeremy Allison will maintain connections to the community.

Almost as if in anticipation of his new duties, Fink has recently published a book called "The Business and Economics of Linux and Open Source." It sounds like a primer for business management, and that is what it is intended to be both within HP and elsewhere.

Fink briefly outlined the book for me and the part that struck me as being on the mark was when he described how he decided to explain the Linux kernel, and how difficult that was to do in language that executives — CEOs and the like — could understand. Difficult, but vital.

He said, "I really came to the conclusion that if you don't understand the difference between a kernel and a distribution... It's a must... You need to understand the difference between those two things." He didn't need to spell out the fact that the kernel is licensed under the GPL.

I observed that unless a businessperson knew the difference, they would be much more susceptible to FUD about the GPL. Fink agreed, "MS is putting all sorts of FUD around: GPL is a cancer, an IP killer, etc. And my typical response is read the GPL and understand it, but at the same time read your MS license and understand it."

He stressed the following point: "The book is also written with no hype in mind, so this is not about "Linux will solve world hunger," nor "Linux is an intellectual property killer." It sounds to me as if it is an instruction manual written by a businessman with other business people in mind, to help them take advantage of what Linux and open source has to offer.

At the end of our discussion I felt as if I had a clear view of what's up with Linux and open source at HP these days. Fink says none of his Linux or open source people have lost their jobs. Given the current downtrend in the technology sector as a whole these days, that says a lot about HP's intentions.

What do you think? Will HP turn on a dime and leave Linux behind with the next winds of change, or is HP in it for the long haul? Can HP resist the pressures from Microsoft or will HP cave in as IBM did with OS/2? Share your thoughts in LinuxWorld's Talkback.

More Stories By Joe Barr

Joe Barr is a freelance journalist covering Linux, open source and network security. His 'Version Control' column has been a regular feature of Linux.SYS-CON.com since its inception. As far as we know, he is the only living journalist whose works have appeared both in phrack, the legendary underground zine, and IBM Personal Systems Magazine.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.