June 1, 2006 4:44 AM PDT

Red Hat: Microsoft still 'aggressive as hell'

Three or four years ago, open-source providers enjoyed plenty of attention. Just ask Novell, which more or less reinvented itself thanks to the open-source fairy dust provided by its acquistion of the Suse Linux distribution.

But now some of the disruptive energy seems to have dropped away, as attention turns increasingly to the collaborative potential of the Web. Google and the buzzword du jour, Web 2.0, are capturing the attention once enjoyed by the struggle between Linux, Windows and Unix. As the operating system layer becomes commoditized, focus appears to be shifting to the Web as the real disruptive platform.

Got views on Vista?

Against this backdrop, some of the darlings of the open-source community may struggle to stay relevant and hang onto the kudos they once enjoyed. Red Hat is the leading provider of enterprise-ready Linux, and continues to enjoy financial success as a result, but how does the company evolve and stay relevant in a world where the operating system is not the talking point it once was?

ZDNet UK sat down with Red Hat chief executive Matthew Szulik at the company's user summit in Nashville for a brief discussion on how he intends to keep his company on the cutting edge and battle the biggest threats to its future success.

Some of the momentum around Linux seems to be petering out; how do you maintain interest in your company, and what else do open source and Linux have to offer?
I think that it takes a strong sense of identity to know that what you are and what you do is vital. We are an infrastructure supplier that creates a high-level operating system. We have some incredibly bright, highly informed people who love technology. To make any kind of shift of direction based on the latest trend would be a mistake--the market would spit me out.

But isn't the entertainment technology project you announced today--Mugshot--based around the kind of online collaboration technology at the heart of Web 2.0? That wasn't in our minds when we created the project 18 months ago. Mugshot is an attempt to bridge a gap and attract more mainstream interest in open source.

Some commentators have claimed that Microsoft is beginning to soften its stance on open source and Linux, and is becoming less confrontational--is that something you have witnessed?
They continue to be as aggressive as hell, as far as I am concerned. They have still got an awful lot of firepower.

If your acquisition of application server company JBoss had been completed in time for this summit, would you have more to talk about beyond the operating system layer?
The acquisition has not been delayed--I think that we set expectations for it to complete in the early part of June. Until then I can't really say very much beyond broad generalizations of how it will affect our business.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Red Hat at the moment?
Well, integrating JBoss into our business is a pretty important one. But continuing development around Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and pushing ahead with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (due by the end of this year) are also challenges.

Andrew Donoghue of ZDNet UK reported from Nashville, Tenn.

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13 comments

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Re: operating system layer becomes commoditized
The OS you run on your workstation is still important but, from
what I've read and observed over the past few years, it appears
to be less so every day. It looks like the day of the fat client on
everyone's desk has peaked.

Whether we get our apps from the Internet (Google, Live, etc) or
a corporate server, it appears it won't be very many years until
end users don't know or care what runs their workstation/
device/whatever.

That trend should help companies whose server OS's are gaining
marketshare (Redhat, Novell-SuSE, etc) and hurt those who
depend on fat clients (Microsoft).

The way companies like Microsoft are trying diversify by moving
into other areas like gaming, mobile phones, and web services,
it looks like they agree.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Great points
I couldn't say better myself.

I'm an Integration Architect, building SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) services for a very large financial services company.

M$ has previously talked about "online software" & that's a bit misleading. But not far off the mark. If there is greater take-up of UDDI & dynamic service discovery, there's going to be services embedded all over, whether it's a dictionary service embedded in Word, or selt-service acount maintenance for banking.

Then consider the insulation provided by Java apps. running in the JVM, using JNDI, RMI/RCP, CORBA IIOP, etc.

It does make the whole workstation data security issue look so 5 minutes ago. I wanna be a Trusted Authority, issuing certificates. There's a fortune to be made there. Just please lets make sure the guvment don't get into this business - they would NOT be Trusted.

Ultimately, your workstation OS is going to be running more & more applications, that are just GUI's & orchestration services.

Q. Taken a step further, could the OS itself benefit from using remote services ?
Posted by DryHeatDave (79 comments )
Link Flag
aggressive
aggressise?
Posted by sexlove2046 (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What do these people smoke?
"some of the darlings of the open-source community may struggle to stay relevant and hang onto the kudos they once enjoyed."

From what I read Windows is almost 100% dominant in the United States only. Many other countries prefer open source or non Windows alternatives. I am very much in the minority here in the US, as I prefer anything that is not Microsoft. A lot of the forums I read from for Linux and BSD and other platforms like ZETA, enjoy substantially more success in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia compared to here in the states.

Joshua
Posted by jcannonb (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
smoking on bin-laden
They must be smoking that bin-laden-weed, lol
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Link Flag
Well
Can't talk for other countries, but at least here in Venezuela windows IS almost 100% dominant too (though most of it is pirated). Some people have heard of linux, but other than a couple of engineering students I've never really met anyone that uses it regularly (and even those I know that have used it either dual boot or abandoned it at all).
Posted by Loco_Man (12 comments )
Link Flag
Do you mean in servers?
According to this article I found, Windows XP is still at 70%. XP only, not all iterations of Windows.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/ITFacts/?p=10780" target="_newWindow">http://blogs.zdnet.com/ITFacts/?p=10780</a>

Linux is doing great in the server market as far as I know. If you do have contradictory statistics you might want to send it in.
Posted by Xpheyel (32 comments )
Link Flag
"As the operating system layer...
... becomes commoditized, focus appears to be shifting to the Web as the real disruptive platform..."; and, I am quite sure that I can close my eyes and bet the "farm" that one of these days "Linux, Windows and Unix" will have to make room for the OS/2 Warp Platform as this was the Operating System that was originally poised to begin the shift "to the Web as the real disruptive platform"!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OS/2 Warp
You can still find this? We are talking about the same OS/2 Warp that was released around 1992, right? If you can find it, you might have a collectors item on your hands. I'd check out the store you get it at for any other collectables. I haven't heard about OS/2 in years.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
As focus shifts from the operating system ...
As focus shifts from the operating system to the Web, then it doesn't really matter what OS you use, either on the client or the server. Why not use what's substantially lower cost and free from vendor lock-in? Why not use Linux? (And not necessarily Red Hat.)
Posted by alucinor (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Better yet.
If I have a computer that I only need to browse the web, then I will. Wait, that type of system was already done... boxes you can hook to your TV and served as web browsers. They were considerably cheaper than computers. Perhaps when the focus shifts to the Web, you should get one of these rather than a computer with an OS at a substantially lower cost.

Excuse me? You're not ready to give up all the other things you would like to do with a computer? I guess that means your focus won't be shifting from the operating system to the web as the article claims it will.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
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