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Messman says Linux roots will continue to grow

Novell CEO Jack Messman, kicking off the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo, laid out a laundry list for the open source community in 2005 and beyond.

BOSTON -- Linux has made huge strides in security, support and stability in the past year -- and that's just the beginning.

Novell Inc. CEO Jack Messman said as much in his opening keynote presentation at LinuxWorld Conference & Expo Tuesday morning. He touted the successes of his Waltham, Mass.-based company and Linux in general while cautioning his peers and the open source community to continue the hard work required to ultimately supplant proprietary software with open source alternatives.

"Linux has established unshakable roots throughout the enterprise, but there is still work to be done," Messman said.

Continuing down the open Linux road

In his address, Messman pushed several key terms as he discussed the success of Linux in the enterprise. Words like flexible, adaptive, greater control and independence have all become associated with Linux, while the questions and concerns that arose at last year's LinuxWorld have receded, he said.

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Messman said questions of Linux support have declined over the past 13 months because of a growing number of global Linux training centers, Web support centers and manuals.

"Customers want assurances all the way up through applications and the software stack," Messman said. "These assurances will lead to worldwide Linux adoption."

Messman also cited a 2004 Evans Data Corp. survey that found 92% of IT departments had not had their Linux system infected.

"The open nature of Linux is the reason for [better security]," he said. "There are so many people with so much invested it's no wonder it has such a rock solid code base."

The fact that companies are pursuing the Common Criteria Certification for their applications has also led to a sense of better Linux security, Messman explained. That Linux applications have EAL3 and EAL4 certification is symbolic that the operating system is ready for even the "most sensitive enterprise environments," he said.

As a testament to the security and support Linux can now boast, Messman pointed to the success enjoyed by Salt Lake City-based Inc., an online retailer specializing in the sale of liquidated or overstocked goods. vice president of information technology Shawn Schwegman said that his business was running Novell SuSE Linux "100%" because, "at the end of the day Linux provided low costs and better sever power" than the large, monolithic machines of proprietary vendors.

Greg Hendrick, the director of business development for Dayton, Ohio-based Teradata, said he is beginning to see Linux slowly moving into the core of enterprise applications.

Hendrick said Teradata, a division of the NCR Corp., is a data warehousing and CRM applications company that has recently started to look to Linux for its database software needs. Currently the Teradata IT shop runs NCR Unix, he said, but demand from the market has started the Linux experimentation process.

Messman also set out to quell any concerns users might have had concerning IP litigation and Linux.

"CIOs can deploy [Linux] with peace of mind and with confidence that Novell will protect against present and future patent litigation," Messman said.

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