Network and Systems Software Product of the Year 2001

datmation-poy.gif With their selection of Red Hat Linux 7.2 as the top Network and Systems Software product of 2001, Datamation readers send a resounding message: Linux has a valuable -- and growing -- role in the enterprise.
Posted February 15, 2002

Lynn Haber

When it comes to purchasing network and systems software, value -- namely savings and ROI -- is the top priority for Datamation readers. With the bottom line in mind, readers gave a big thumbs up to Linux, the maturing system software that increasingly is gaining support among enterprise customers.

They gave first place in the Network and Systems Software category of Datamation's Product of the Year 2001 to Red Hat Linux 7.2. The survey results signal a real boost in confidence for the operating system, which garnered more than one-third of the votes, 39 percent, or 103 votes from a total of 261 cast in this category.

Scooping up the second place spot, with 18 percent of the vote, or 47 votes, was San Francisco-based Macromedia Inc.'s JRun Server 3.1, a Java application server. The product, which received a little more than 50 percent less votes than the category winner, Red Hat Linux, helps companies build and deploy J2EE compatible applications quickly and cost-effectively.

Together, the top two winners amassed more than half of all votes, or 57 percent, leaving the other category contenders to divvy up remaining 43 percentage points.

Placing third, Novell Inc.'s Netware 6 received 12 percent of the votes, or 32 votes. By voting for the Provo, Utah-based company's network software, readers reiterated their message about the importance of product value when purchasing network and systems software. Netware 6 provides network managers with access to core network resources combined with minimal management intervention.

Tim Grieser, research director at International Data Corp. (IDC), Framingham, Mass., says companies are looking at enterprise system management software for savings and ROI in several ways. "It can mean more automation to manage the infrastructure, or consolidation, or buying solutions to fix immediate problems," he says.

Voters had a choice of the following nominees:
Covalent Fast Start Server 2.0
Covalent Technologies Inc.

eDirectory 8.6
Novell Inc.

Macromedia's JRun 3.1
Macromedia Inc.

NetWare 6
Novell Inc.

Red Hat Linux 7.2
Red Hat Inc.

Samba 2.2.2
Samba Team

Stalker CommuniGate Pro
Stalker Software Inc.

Sun Forte 3.0
Sun Microsystems Inc.

Symark Power Broker 2.8.1
Symark Software Inc.

Zeus Web Server 4.0
Zeus Technology Ltd.

Two key drivers for the adoption of Linux in the enterprise is cost savings and consolidation, says George Weiss, vice president and research director at Gartner Group Inc., Stamford, Conn. He also notes that corporate interest in Linux has gone from viewing it as a questionable OS alternative to one that is legitimate for enterprise adoption.

And, despite the fact that open source Linux can be downloaded off of the Internet for free, Weiss says that IT managers turn to vendors like Red Hat because, "Companies need an accountable vendor to maintain and enhance it."

Red Hat customer ImageLinks Inc., a Melbourne, Fla.-based producer of advanced satellite image processing software for commercial applications, runs Linux on 30 workstations, as well as a Beowulf cluster comprised of 64 computers.

In the process of testing an upgrading to the vendor's Linux 7.2, Mark Lucas, CTO at ImageLinks, notes that the company is always looking to take advantage of the latest technology.

"With so much going on in the open source community, we depend on Red Hat for the latest updates," he says. Some new features of Red Hat Linux 7.2 are: Nautilus file manager for graphical file management; network configuration tool; new user management tool; and new hardware viewing tool, to name a few.

Upgrading from Network 4.11 to Netware 6, has allowed the San Diego County Credit Union, in San Diego, Calif., to manage its network, users and resources with minimal intervention and personnel, says Sean Azhadi, vice president of technology. The Credit Union has 17 locations and approximately 550 desktops. Like many readers, Azhadi's goal is to do more with less.

See the List of Winners
Click here to see the list of winners in each category in Datamation's Product of the Year 2001.

Going forward, industry watchers expect users to continue to require that vendors' network and system software products help keep total ownership costs down. That said, expect to see the continuing trend in Linux/Unix convergence, an increased level of software OS virtuality on a single piece of hardware, and more point solutions for managing the network.

Lynn Haber reports on IT and business technology issues from Norwell, Mass. She can be reached at

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