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LinuxWorld preview: Linux takes backseat to open source, says CA CTO

Today, the Linux world is about more than Linux, says Yogesh Gupta, Computer Associates' chief technology officer and senior vice president. It's about the Linux ecosystem and the universe of enterprise infrastructures.

The Linux world is about more than Linux today, says Yogesh Gupta, Computer Associates' chief technology officer and senior vice president. It's about the Linux universe of enterprise infrastructures and ecosystems and about technologies as diverse as wireless, radio frequency identification, servers and Web services. Gupta plans to explore that universe at LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in Boston next week. In this interview, the helmsman for CA's technology strategy lists the hot technologies he'll be checking out at that show and during 2005.

What will be top technology trends for Linux and open source software in 2005, the ones that LinuxWorld attendees and those not attending the show should check out?

Yogesh Gupta: At the show, I am looking at technologies that'll make Linux a viable choice for high-end computing over the next few years. And more and more, LinuxWorld is not just about Linux, but about the way open source solutions can be integrated into enterprise IT infrastructures and business practices. Everyone should be looking out for something new in that light. At LinuxWorld specifically, I think I'd like to check out Web services and enterprise-ready open source solutions.

My predictions for top technology trends in general for 2005 include open source goes beyond Linux; Wi-Fi deployments go mainstream; Web services infiltrate the infrastructure; the coming of age of pervasive computing and the proliferation of embedded devices; and RFID [radio frequency identification].

Speaking of open source, is it surprising that most LinuxWorld keynotes will cover usage of open source software in the enterprise? What's the message that this focus sends to IT managers?

Gupta: Even though it may seem surprising, it really isn't. We recognize that the open source technologies can be beneficial to customers. The message to IT managers is quite simple -- as they start to consider open source solutions for their tech stack, they have to become familiar with the issues related to evaluating, procuring and managing their open source efforts. Open source has its benefits and risks, and it is IT management's responsibility to be aware of them and the ways to overcome them.

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In 2005, what's the biggest barrier to widespread adoption of open source applications by businesses?

Gupta: There is a wide range of open source technology out there. SourceForge has 90,000-plus projects. Some of it is ready for business adoption, but a lot of it is not and may not really have been meant to be. The challenge is to determine which open source technologies have the maturity, support structure and the backing of solid vendors to make them appropriate for enterprise use. Businesses must also ensure that whatever open source technology they bring into their enterprise is manageable and secure as an integral part of their infrastructure.

CA contributed our Ingres DBMS [database management system] to the open source community to ensure that any business looking for a truly mission-critical DBMS that is supported and indemnified by a world-class enterprise software company has access to one. CA is addressing [security also] with its enterprise systems management security offerings for the open source technologies.

Today, have most of the barriers to enterprise Linux adoption toppled?

Gupta: I believe that the rapid rate of adoption of Linux servers is a clear indication that businesses are getting more and more comfortable with their use of Linux. In fact, Linux has hit the adoption milestones for server OS faster than any other OS in the history of the industry.

People have to realize that widespread adoption of any technology takes time. Organizations have to become comfortable with the idea, there needs to be a critical mass of trained folks who know the technology and the complete ecosystem around that technology must exist. The ecosystem includes layered technologies, development tools, applications, service providers and so on. I believe that such an ecosystem exists today around Linux.

Are there any gaps left in terms of products available for Linux?

Gupta: I believe that things can always be improved. For example, we need to deliver better solutions for managing virtualization, grids and Linux clusters.

Linux itself needs better management interfaces within the OS. That is why we [at CA] wrote and contributed KGEM as a kernel extension, which makes it much easier to secure and manage Linux environments. We hope to see it in the kernel very soon.

Some areas where there is room for improvement are the layered applications such as messaging systems, project management tools and collaboration suites. In many cases the piece parts are there, or nearly there, but they have to be integrated into a cohesive whole -- a real solution that an IT organization can use and rely upon.

What categories of enterprise applications for Linux are the strongest?

Gupta: I believe that the open source tech stack offerings, including databases, Web and application servers, and SOAP [Simple Object Access Protocol] stacks, are ready, as well as many development tools, infrastructure management products and security solutions. There are also some very strong portal and content management systems available. High-response or interactive applications that may be CPU-intensive are great candidates for Linux, which is quite efficient in its use of CPU cycles. Also, because Linux by its nature has a virtualized device and resource model, I think enterprise storage management has a tremendous future on Linux. And we've seen that Linux is great for running help desk systems, and I would like to see more enterprise try such applications on Linux.

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