SCO lives again. Caldera International executives yesterday executed a massive corporate U-turn, distancing the company from its earlier acquisition strategy and glorious - if brief - Linux heritage,writes Gavin Clarke.
Two years after Caldera acquired the SCO Unix operation, company president and chief executive officer Darl McBride opened his company's annual conference yesterday by dumping Caldera's Linux name for SCO's. McBride also placed SCO's products front and center of the strategy, downgrading Linux.
The announcement makes Caldera the latest to re-assess the value of a high-profile, dot-com-era merger.
Caldera's situation has been complicated by its inheritance of Santa Cruz Operation's (SCO's) renowned reseller and partner channel. Partners were hostile to the imposition of the Caldera business. McBride acknowledged while Caldera had a strong US brand, it was non-existent in Europe.
"SCO is back from the dead," McBride announced to applause during an opening keynote speech to partners and resellers in Las Vegas, Nevada. Caldera International is now SCO Group Inc, pending a forthcoming shareholder vote. No date is set for the vote.
The recently appointed McBride cited residual strength of SCO's brand and renewed interest in SCO products. He claimed sales of OpenServer grew in Caldera's most recent quarter in the US for the first time in five quarters.
"What is it with the OpenServer phenomenon? We can't kill it," McBride said to applause from delegates. "One customer last month bought $4m in OpenServer licenses. The customers want to give us money for it. Why don't we just sell it?" he said.
McBride told a post-keynote press conference OpenServer accounted for the majority of his company's revenue, followed by UnixWare. He did not provide figures.
Hindering future sales, though, were Caldera's brand, which is regarded as weak, especially outside the US. "Employees talk to a customer and spend half their time trying to explain we are Caldera," Darl said.
McBride was joined by senior vice president of technology Opinder Bawa who underlined the renewed SCO-focus. The UnixWare brand is back with version 7.1.3 and Caldera will kill off OpenUnix 8.0, which swallowed UnixWare. Version 7.1.3 is planned for release by December.
In a concession to Caldera's Linux heritage, OpenUnix will offer binary application capability and Linux Kernel Personality for Linux applications to run on UnixWare. Bawa conceded to Computerwire, though, there has been very little interest in this technology from Caldera customers. "Customers are going for one operating system or another," he said.
OpenServer 5.0.7 will ship in the fourth quarter with enhanced USB support, and support for Windows 98 and ME applications, with updates through next year.
Caldera's OpenLinux Linux development has been kicked-out to the recently announced UnitedLinux effort. The OpenLinux core will be based on UnitedLinux.
Bawa said future versions of SCO-products would appear more frequently with the launch of release packs, rather than rolling new features into full products on a slower cycle. Bawa claimed this would keep users current with technologies like latest USB and Java specifications.
McBride and newly appointed senior vice president of corporate development Sean Wilson, also announced what some would call a dated business strategy. They unveiled an online web site hosting and e-business development tool for small and medium size businesses (SMBs), called SCO Biz.
The company is targeting a potential 20 million SMBs, claiming just five million have a web presence, which McBride termed "brochureware". SCO claims SCO Biz can built a web site in just minutes, linking front-office and back-office applications running on OpenServer. SCO Biz uses XML, Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Web Services Description Language (WSDL).
SCO Biz is based on Vista.com's web site and e-commerce development software. SCO hopes partners and resellers will sell SCO Biz to SMBs whose infrastructure will be hosted on SCO's hardware in Bellingham, Washington.
McBride claimed SCO Biz would grow SCO's business, adding he would expand the service through licensing and acquisition of niche, technology start-ups. "Two to three years from now we are going to have a much broader piece of the market," he said.
As an incentive to partners, SCO will buy-out all or part of a successful partners' business. Acquisition depends on customer size and customer retention. McBride called it "living the American dream."