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Commentary: HP gives Linux a boost

Hewlett-Packard's simple indemnification strategy removes a critical risk and clears the path for customers to run Linux on HP gear.

Commentary: HP gives Linux a boost
By Forrester Research
Special to CNET
September 25, 2003, 4:00PM PT

By Ted Schadler, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research

Hewlett-Packard plans to indemnify its Linux customers against the SCO Group legal threat by taking on their defense and assuming any liabilities.

With this simple strategy, HP has removed a critical risk and cleared the path for customers to run Linux on HP gear.

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HP is in love with Linux. The company claimed $2 billion in Linux-related revenues last year, has aggressively contributed developers and support to Linux projects and has funded the Open Source Development Lab. Now HP says it will indemnify its Linux customers against SCO legal action, thereby reducing risk for HP customers that run Linux software. What does the new strategy mean?

• Customers can deploy Linux with confidence. In a recent Forrester survey, we found that only 16 percent of large firms were slowing their open source adoption because of the SCO lawsuits. But now, this 16 percent can get back to work--as long as they buy gear and support from HP after October 1.

• Independent software vendors can confidently resume their Linux ports. Vendors like Siebel Systems, PeopleSoft and Vignette are joining BEA Systems, Oracle and SAP in porting their apps to Linux. All these vendors now gain a protector and Linux ally in HP.

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The company announces that it will
indemnify its Linux customers against
potential legal actions by the SCO Group.

• IBM must do more than it has done to protect its customers from SCO suits. IBM has countersued SCO and generally downplayed the impact of the lawsuit on its customers. But in the wake of HP's bold move, IBM will find itself playing second fiddle, unless it offers the same protection.

• Microsoft must accept that its best partner is also aiding the enemy. Microsoft isn't happy that Linux gives Unix shops an easy migration path to Intel economics--previously the exclusive preserve of Windows. And it won't like HP's decision to make the Linux choice even easier for customers.

• Sun Microsystems must go further than its limited, desktop Linux indemnification. Sun was hoping to look like a Linux knight in shining armor when it announced its own legal indemnification plans. But Sun is only taking on the burden for Linux running on desktops--hardly the sweet spot for Linux in the enterprise today.

© 2003, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change.