SCO Professional Services: SCO What?By Joshua Weinberger Print
Dossier: The former Caldera Systems is at the center of the UnitedLinux consortium, but traditional Unix customers have become its bread and butter.
Caldera Systems had been in the Linux enterprise business for years when it purchased two divisions of a Unix shop known as the Santa Cruz Operation (SCO), in 2001. It quickly became clear, though, which side was really earning its keepLinux represents barely 5% of current revenue. So Caldera rebranded itself The SCO Group. Not long after, SCO banded with three other struggling Linux providers to form the UnitedLinux consortium. (As Linux leader Red Hat is awfully fond of pointing out, the combination of four money-losing software distributors doesn't necessarily add up to an immediate success.)
In the meantime, SCO has had to focus on its bread-and-butter Unix customers, while it looks for a way to jump-start Linux sales.
Though SCO says many of its most traditional Unix customerssmall and midsized businessesare still evaluating the potential of Linux, some, such as Cendant Hotel Group, have already launched major SCO Linux applications. More than 3,700 of Cendant's 7,000 hotels run a Linux-based property management system that interfaces with all of the hotel's other information systems. It's "the brains of the hotel," says David Chugg, Cendant's senior director of hotel solutions.
With no in-house Linux engineers, Cendant relied on SCO Professional Services to program a system upgrade in 2002. As a result, Cendant has enjoyed a close relationship with SCO technical support specialists, Chugg says. "When my technology guys have an issue, they have a direct line to a support engineer."
Another SCO customer, however, says the company hasn't been as diligent in mending some other fences.
For more than a decade, NEC Corporate Networks has used SCO Unix as the basis for call-center management systems for the hospitality industry and medical-center market, says Bill Brewer, the group's software development director.
NEC used to get personal attention from a sales rep who provided ready access to technical support. That relationship changed after Caldera acquired SCO in 2001. Heavy turnover in SCO's sales organization made it difficult to get the company's attention. "At this point, I don't even know who my contact is at SCO anymore," Brewer says.
That's no way to sustain a relationship.
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