The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) is pinning its hopes for future revenue growth on moving into the enterprise and sees its Tarantella client integration software as one of the key planks of that strategy.
The supplier has traditionally sold its Unix operating systems into the small and medium business sector via the third party channel, but Tarantella requires a different business model and is sold to larger corporates via systems integrators such as Integrated Computer Systems and specially certified resellers. As a result, it currently resides in a 'virtual business unit' within the organisation.
Ray Anderson, SCO?s senior vice president of international marketing, explained the aims behind this at the SCO Forum developers conference in Santa Cruz last week. ?If we grow Tarantella, we grow. It could almost double our potential, but we must execute now. We?ve spent years developing the product, so we have to produce results within the next year,? he said.
Doug Michels, SCO?s president and chief executive, was even more upbeat. ?We think Tarantella?s got a really exciting future. It?s important to understand where the industry is going in its continued evolution to network computing. People are becoming more disenchanted with the fat client nightmare and want to use browsers and tools to end that. Tarantella is a solution,? he said.
He continued: ?I think Tarantella has the makings of a great company. It focusses on the enterprise and gluing enterprise systems together. It will come to bloom over the next 12 months and will start to have a real presence in the enterprise.?
As a result, SCO is talking to a number of OEMs including IBM and Sun to bundle the client piece of Tarantella on their systems for free to try and seed the market. Terminal and network computer manufacturers such as NCD, Wyse and Sherwood are also talking to the supplier.
But John Alhandra, SCO?s chief financial officer, admitted that if the Tarantella business becomes as successful as the company hopes, it may consider spinning it off as a separate entity.
?If you look at the value of Internet stocks and take notice of high market capitalisations, it would seem to make sense potentially, but I?d like to see more growth out of the business first," he explained.
He went on: "The focus is on increasing shareholder value and it makes a lot of sense. It?s easy to argue that the Tarantella valuation is more or equal to the Tarantella business as a whole because it?s a very valuable asset. But, we?re not actively doing anything and there are no current plans. We?re currently just looking at our options,? he explained.
Meanwhile, the next release of the product, version 1.2, is due at the end of this month. This will enable users to add application servers as a third tier between their host and client machines with load automatically balanced between them to improve scalability.
Users will also be able to purchase the first of a series of add-on packs with the release. These packs will comprise specific features that are not required by all users and will be sold as separately chargeable products.
The first offering will focus on security and provide secure socket layer (SSL) support for customers wishing to dial into Intranets, Extranets or the Internet via public telphone lines. They will also be able to specify which IP addresses they wish to have secure connections.
Version 2.0 of Tarantella is due in March next year and will enable users to dial into a local server to access applications anywhere in the enterprise. At present, if customers want the product to scale beyond 5,000 users, they have to dial into servers remotely, which increases costs.
Release 2.0 will also enable remote users to print to a client from an application server anywhere in the business. In the past, printing could only occur where the server was located. Windows CE clients will likewise be supported for the first time.
In the next version, Tarantella will run on Windows NT servers rather than Unix only flavours and will include support for Palmpilots. Scalability will also be increased as standard from 5,000 users hanging off an array of servers to 50,000 by reengineering some of the load balancing algorithms. Version 2.1 is due to ship in the first half of next year.
But, into the future, SCO intends to position the product as more of an enterprise portal that can also deliver data and services such as Web pages, email and workflow services, appearing as icons on users? desktops.
Customers will also be able to share applications on devices such as green screens because Tarantella will be able to store the screen image and present it to two or more users for such functions as training.
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