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New OSDL CEO: Lab focusing more on Linux for data center

Stuart Cohen has been a one-man road show promoting the Open Source Development Lab since taking over as chief executive officer less a month ago. Attracting more Global 2000 members is one of Cohen's top goals for the lab, a facility dedicated to providing developers with the resources and guidance they need to build data center and carrier grade upgrades into Linux and open source software. Cohen -- a former marketing and business development executive with RadiSys Corp., InFocus Corp. and IBM Corp. -- also wants decision makers and administrators to contribute to the OSDL and its projects and accelerate the use of Linux in the enterprise. He outlines his goals for the lab and Linux use in enterprise data centers in this interview.

Can you evaluate where the Open Source Development Lab stands today?
Three years ago, the concept behind the lab was to provide data centers with the equipment and resources for people to develop, test and validate code and scale it for enterprise applications and carrier grade applications. I think we've done a great job there. We're highly used by the community and developers.

We've founded working groups that define the road map and processes for implementing carrier-grade Linux and data center. There is a requirement to take Linux to the next level in terms of acceptance level by our members and our board. Where has Linux made enhancements that make it more attractive to enterprises?
I think Linux has made great strides in reliability, availability and scalability areas. We are using the 2.5 version of the Linux kernel in production here. We spend a lot of time talking about RAS and we believe there are some pieces to grow on there. The OSDL has several partnerships with high-profile vendors. Will those partnerships expand?
We would like to see them expand more into the Global 2000. I'd like to see more CIOs, CTOs, people who are decision makers and have an influence in big companies become members of our working groups to drive those requirements needed to adopt Linux. We have a lot of hardware vendors. We need to recruit more ISVs as members and more from the Global 2000. How involved is the lab in the next version of the kernel?
When you think of the top members of the development community, we have them as members of OSDL. We have a solid working relationship with other leading developers who are not members. We are heavily involved working on Linux in our steering committees, technical committees and marketing committees, as well as our working groups. We are doing a lot to drive those requirements with our members in those areas. What are your short-term and long-term goals for the lab?
There have been three goals put forward by our members and our board. One is to accelerate the use of Linux. Two is to attract more members to the lab and provide more value to the industry. Three is to continue the technical work we are doing as it relates to the technical requirements of the working groups.

The overarching goal of our board and members is to see us become the premier advocates for Linux. I think we have the right skills and capabilities among our members to get into that role. What are some of the biggest barriers to Linux enjoying full-blown acceptance in enterprise data centers?
Some of those [barriers] are getting the big ISVs (independent software vendors) on board and lack of support products for Linux. These need improvement. The level of services and support available for enterprise Linux and carrier-grade Linux need to be updated as well. Is Global 2000 representation lacking right now?
It's not lacking. We have a few major hardware vendors in that partnership today. The focus was to get those hardware companies together. Now we want more industry representation as we look at enterprise and carrier grade offerings.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: news exclusive: "Linux/OSS support, part 1: Does free equal shoddy?"

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Is there a constant theme to the feedback you hear about Linux in the enterprise?
Linux has made great strides in reliability, availability and scalability. It has made great strides in application software availability. But there is always more that needs to be done, like in services and support. We are forming an industry advisory council with representatives of the Global 2000 that includes analysts and ISVs that will shape and define the requirements of what we are working on to make the lab successful.

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