SCO Pitches Unix to Small Businesses

The baseball metaphors and analogies were flying yesterday as The SCO Group used Yankee Stadium as the setting and Legends as the theme to introduce OpenServer 6, an upgrade to its Unix operating system. The name SCO may be more familiar to some for its aggressive legal pursuits against companies using Linux, which the company says is based on its intellectual properties (IP).

While a Unix-based system may not seem small business-friendly, SCO is targeting SMBs with OpenServer 6, relying on its  11,000 resellers — many of whom target smaller businesses — to sell, service and support the system. A Starter Editor of OpenServer 6 is available for $599 and an Enterprise Edition costs $1,399.

“Defending our IP has become very loud and very noisy,” said SCO president and CEO Darl McBride (dressed in a Yankees shirt and cap and wielding a baseball bat). Behind the scenes, he said, the company has been quietly working on OpenServer 6.

While companies such as IBM and HP are still offering Unix-based products, SCO is one of the few actively marketing Unix  to SMBs. In fact, the company says it already has a large number of small businesses using OpenServer 5.

Why Unix? The company touts what it describes as “rock-solid” stability and availability on low-cost hardware based on processors from Intel and AMD. HP, for example, announced that it will offer OpenServer 6 on its Proliant servers, storage and networking products.

The company maintains that OpenServer 6 is easier to maintain and support and more secure than Linux, which vice president of engineering Sandy Gupta said is in a race with Windows to see which platform is more insecure. “I’m glad we aren’t in that race,” he said.

McBride also stressed that Linux, which is being marketed to SMBs by many vendors as a low-cost alternative to Windows, isn’t a bargain due to ongoing service and support expenses that factor in to total cost of ownership. “Linux is kind of interesting in that it’s free, but it’s free in the way that a puppy is free.” We’re selling a product for a price, but it doesn’t have the maintenance costs that Linux does.”

From a technical perspective, Gupta said that OpenServer 6 will offer performance two-to-four times that of the previous version. It also increases the number of processors it supports to 32. Applications can now use up to 16GB of memory, but additional memory can be dedicated for some applications, allowing databases to access up to 64GB of memory. OpenServer 6 also brings together its predecessor (OpenServer 5.0.7) and SCO’s other Unix operating systems (including support for SCO Xenix, SCO Unix and UnixWare 7 applications).

In addition to supporting Unix and Java applications (with the inclusion of Java 1.4.2), businesses can also take advantage of other popular Open Source applications that SCO integrates into OpenServer 6, including the latest versions of the MySQL and PostgreSQL databases, Apache Web server, Mozilla browser, Tomcat Java servlet container, Samba file and print services, and others.

Customers can use the OpenServer desktop or use the KDE3-based graphical user interface. SCO OpenServer 6 also supports the Firefox browser and OpenOffice suite of applications.

“As the flag bearer of the Unix on Intel environment, it’s encouraging to see the SCO Group continuing its development of SCO OpenServer,” said Dan Kusnetzky, program vice president, System Software, Enterprise Computing Group, IDC, a Boston-based research firm. “Based on the performance and security improvements, as well as integration with many popular Open Source technologies, SCO has given its customers a number of reasons to upgrade and continue investing in the SCO OpenServer platform.”

Rally Time
Flipping his baseball backwards (to rally-cap position), McBride said that the company is “in the middle of a comeback. Some people say ‘you’re too far down, you can’t come back.’ Did you watch the game last night here at Yankee Stadium?'” McBride was referring to the Yankees 13-run 8th inning Tuesday. New York at one point trailed 10-2, but went on to beat Tampa Bay 20-11.

In what SCO must hope isn’t a precursor of things to come, in the game immediately following the SCO announcement Wednesday, the Yankees lost 5-3.

Dan Muse is executive editor of’s Small Business Channel, EarthWeb’s Networking & Communications Channel and ServerWatch.

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