[Beowulf] Rackable / SGI

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Fri Apr 3 06:57:43 PDT 2009

On Wed, 1 Apr 2009, Ian Dillon wrote:

> Likewise Joe, watching the demise of SGI has been incredibly hard to fathom.
> This was a great company with tons of energy/potential and did right by
> their employees back in the day.  I think this is why so many of us feel for
> the company and its current employee base.

Living in Raleigh, I of course see the local business news and we should
all be aware that Red Hat is being sniffed after by Oracle, not because
they are tanking but because they are exploding and have had their most
profitable quarter ever.  Nothing like a recession to convince compute
shops that they really do need to save money and that RH (costly as it
is) is cheaper and scales better than WinXX in the server room.


   Rackable obtains SGI
   IBM obtains Sun
   Oracle obtains Red Hat

Then the linux landscape will rather suddenly be at least potentially
signficantly changed.  If Oracle takes over RH and attempts to
significantly alter the proprietary/non-proprietary aspects of their
business, or decides to e.g. dump Fedora and place more obstacles in the
path of (re)building into Centos and other derived distributions, it
could affect many of us.

There are similar questions associated with IBM.  Sun provides support
for some major tools used in Linux these days, notably open office but
also SGE.  In recessionary times, IBM might well take over the server
business as profitable but gut their participation in
"non-revenue-generating) activities such as supporting OS software.  IBM
itself hasn't been a terribly active participant thus far (which is a
shame, as they have the resources and shop to make a huge difference in
the lin vs win wars).

Finally I don't think of Rackable as being a software company at all,
although SGI has always had SOME software component to their offerings,
if only glueware or graphicware for their hardware.  Again I could see
them simply glomming onto SGI's server business and more or less purging
their developers and eliminating all participation in non-revenue
generating development.

Now, Oracle at least is probably smart enough to realize that trying to
overcommercialize RH would result in the destruction or redirection of
the community that has made it profitable and would be stupid even in
the medium run.  I'm not so optimistic about IBM or Rackable.  We could
all end up being Debian users yet...;-)


P.S. -- I suspect, though, that if Oracle Did the Wrong Thing at RH, a
rather large percentage of RH employees would simply walk.  I know quite
a few of them, and the term "rabid" comes to mind in association with
"open source developers".  And of course the GPL is still a serious
obstacle to their doing the wrong thing in the SHORT run.)

What I don't really understand is: why would Oracle WANT Red Hat?  Why
would Red Hat owners want to sell?  Red Hat comes with several free open
source database products.  Oracle can't "leave them out" of a RH
distribution -- the open souce community would laugh at that.  They'd
end up distributing an operating system/software suite that contained
its own best competition prepackaged and yum install mysql installable.
This is the sort of thing that corporate talking heads and bean counters
are going to find very difficult to comprehend.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org] On
> Behalf Of Joe Landman
> Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 5:57 AM
> To: Kilian CAVALOTTI
> Cc: beowulf at beowulf.org
> Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Rackable / SGI
> Kilian CAVALOTTI wrote:
>> On Wednesday 01 April 2009 13:58:22 John Hearns wrote:
> http://www.sgi.com/company_info/newsroom/press_releases/2009/april/rackable
>>> .html
>>> Not an April Fools.
>> Whoa. That, and IBM eating Sun, the market is really shrinking...
> Read the note from SGI.  This was done as a bankruptcy filing this
> morning, and not all liabilities are going over.  That is, it is an
> asset purchase.  Creditors may still object, and force this to be a
> chapter 7 filing (sell the thing bit by bit).  I had been wondering if
> they had made their $5M debt service payment on friday, and whether or
> not their creditors believed them to be in default.  The speed of this
> and its construction, have a feel of a "rush" job ... last minute to
> stave off a complete shuttering and sale.
> I sympathize with my friends and former co-workers at the company ...
> this is a whopper of a layoff ... with likely no severance (SGI was ~3x
> Rackable's size w.r.t. people, and I would bet only a small fraction
> will follow the asset sale, if Rackable makes them an offer).
> Sad day.
> As for the market shrinking, well ... this does happen.  We (Scalable)
> are happy to help customers out (service/support on existing systems,
> new clusters/storage), as is Don's company (Penguin), as are other
> companies here.  Some of us are doing well and growing.
> Joe
> -- 
> Joseph Landman, Ph.D
> Founder and CEO
> Scalable Informatics LLC,
> email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
> web  : http://www.scalableinformatics.com
>        http://jackrabbit.scalableinformatics.com
> phone: +1 734 786 8423 x121
> fax  : +1 866 888 3112
> cell : +1 734 612 4615
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Robert G. Brown	                       http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu

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