When The Santa Cruz Operation announced three weeks ago that it was selling its Unix server software and professional services divisions to Linux provider Caldera Systems, many customers wondered what the move would mean to their own operations.
But at this week's SCO Forum2000 event here on the campus of the University of California at Santa Cruz, many of those customer concerns were answered, as executives from both companies assured users that SCO Unixware will live and thrive.
Those were just the assurances the customers wanted to hear.
Roland Priest, a senior project assistant at the Philadelphia-based Pep Boys auto-parts store chain, said fellow information technology staffers at his company were "very concerned" about SCO's move to sell the two divisions.
With the acquisition, Priest said, the concern was that Caldera would move to drop either Unix or Linux to focus on its future.
Those fears were addressed Monday at the conference, when Caldera's president and CEO, Ransom Love, stressed that the two product lines will live together side by side, adding strength to each other.
Orem, Utah-based Caldera pledged to continue the SCO OpenServer and Unixware 7 lines, he said.
"Why would we buy it to destroy what we buy?" Love asked. "That wouldn't make any sense." For Priest, those were strong words that gave him a big comfort boost about the future of SCO Unix, which his company has used for years on some 2,400 servers that support more than 650 stores.
By the second day of the conference, Priest said, his concerns had lessened.
"The products are still going to be here; the support is going to be here," he said. "I think it's going to be stronger by combining two big pieces into one company." Another SCO customer, Shay Tochner, a worldwide strategic consultant at Magic Software Enterprises Ltd. in Yehuda, Israel, agreed.
To make it work for customers, though, Caldera must be serious about keeping the Unix and Linux lines separate, he said.
"If they're integrating correctly, they can be a winner. But if things are going to degrade in the SCO infrastructure, then this is going to be a disaster for both parties," he said.
"I'm calm," said Tochner, whose company has been using OpenDesktop, OpenServer and Unixware during the past seven years. "I'm not worried. I still have to believe what they're saying. They have to be stupid to go against it." Reseller Marcelo A. Gonzalez, president of Sisat SA in Buenos Aires, has been selling and supporting SCO products for 12 years and is also pleased with the sale to Caldera.
"It will take a little time for the Unixware customers to see that this will be good for everybody," Gonzalez said. "The words of Ransom Love are very important." Even prospective customers like the realignment of the server division.
John DuPont, a product manager at ICS Advent, a Microsoft reseller in San Diego, said his company has been looking at securing a Linux vendor for several months to keep up with the movement of the industry and with requests from customers.
Caldera was a leading candidate before the acquisition of the two SCO divisions and is now an even stronger candidate because of the SCO products, he said.
"Having Caldera buy SCO, it makes it even easier for me because I see one potential source for two products," DuPont said.
SCO and Caldera announced the sale on Aug. 2. SCO is keeping its Tarantella Web-enabling software line as its core business, though the company announced at Forum2000 that it's renaming itself Tarantella Inc. The sale of the two divisions should be finalized by October.