System vendors are failing to deliver on promises to provide support services for Linux in Europe.
IBM and Compaq both admitted this week that support initiatives, originally intended to begin in June, have slipped until September at the earliest. Compaq Services had said it would announce support services for customers running the Linux operating system on its Alphaservers and Proliant servers. A spokesperson for Compaq said: "It hasn't happened yet. It is our attention to do so at the end of September."
IBM does not yet offer Linux support in Europe and was also due to announce its support at the end of June. Adam Jollans, European marketing manager for IBM software on Linux, said: "We will have the support in place by September by the time Europe is back off the beaches."
He added: "Enterprise customers are beginning to ask a lot of questions about Linux, but their biggest concern is service and support."
A recent IDC report, Linux Support in Europe - slowly catching up with the United States claimed that support for the open source code is scarce in Europe and is mainly end user oriented.
Andrew Milroy, IDC research manager and co-author of the report, said: "Initiatives to offer Linux support services for the enterprise in Europe may sway large organisations, but a clear offer is yet to come."
Linux is riding a wave of popularity, with numerous OEMs and independent software vendors announcing their backing. However, IDC's report noted that it is the support infrastructure being built around Linux that will be critical to the Unix operating system moving up the scale from non critical to mission critical applications.
Leading industry analysts, including Jonathan Eunice at at Illuminata (see Newswire 3 July), DH Brown (see Newswire 14 April) and Gartner Group (see Newswire 11 March) have all stated their opinion that Linux is not yet scalable enough nor has the support services available to be ready for enterprise mission critical applications for at least a year.
Big Blue currently offers level one and two support in the US. Level one queries can be dealt with by a help desk, level two by country specialists.
Jollans said: "Level two support connects into level three where problems can be dealt with by four distributors - Red Hat, Suse, Caldera and Turbo Linux."
The distributors work with a virtual team, led by Linux founder Linus Torvalds, if fixes are needed to the kernel.
"IBM did not want to set up an alternative Linux - that's why we connect out to level three support," said Jollans.
IBM has promised that its core middleware products will be ported to the operating system. Linux for DB2 Universal Database is now in beta and "will go gold in August" said Jollans.
IBM's Websphere Application Server for Linux will be available in September and Lotus Domino server will be available by the end of the year. Jollans said IBM will be looking to put Linux on PowerPC systems later this year.
IDC's Milroy concludes that Linux has the features and power to be considered a viable alternative to NT or Unix, but this will only come when IT vendors such as IBM offer Linux support and Linux compliant platforms, which will add, "considerable weight to the Linux cause."
Even Siemens, which announced its intention to support Linux in Europe at Cebit in March and has Red Hat and Suse versions of Linux certified on its Primergy server range, has yet to put a full support offering in place.
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