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CA Says It Didn’t Pay SCO No Stinking Linux Tax

Article to appear in LinuxGram by Maureen O’Gara, Editor in Chief of LinuxGram

The Linux faithful have been hammering Computer Associates as a heretic since the British publication Computer Weekly quoting the SCO Group’s CFO Bob Bench identified CA Thursday as one of SCO’s rare Linux licensees.

CA senior VP of product development Mark Barrenechea says that Bench’s claim is nonsense. CA has not paid SCO any Linux taxes, he said.

Drawing up short of calling SCO a liar, Barrenechea claims that SCO has twisted a $40 million breach-of-contract settlement that CA paid last summer to the Canopy Group, SCO’s biggest stockholder, and Center 7, another Canopy company, and has turned it into a purported Linux license.

As a “small part” of that settlement, Barrenechea said, CA got a bunch of UnixWare licenses that it needed to support its UnixWare customers. SCO, he said, had just attached a transparent Linux indemnification to all UnixWare licenses and that is how SCO comes off calling CA a Linux licensee.

But when CA agreed to that settlement, Barrenechea said, “It was not CA’s intention to become a Linux licensee. It has nothing to do with CA’s product direction or strategic direction,” he said.

CA has absolutely no sympathy for what SCO is doing, Barrenechea said, and in fact, he said, reading from a formal statement, it stands in “stark disagreement with SCO’s tactics and threats.”

Barrenechea and CA’s Linux chief Sam Greenblatt are worried that CA will be tarred with the SCO brush and that CA’s considerable Linux ambitions will be damaged by a disaffected, if not hostile, open source community when in reality CA has “nothing to do with SCO’s strategy and tactics,” they said.

CA was the mystery company SCO was thinking of when it announced last August that an unidentified Fortune 500 company had supposedly become a Linux license. SCO privately described the deal as “significant.”

CA couldn’t disassociate itself from the rumors that identified it as that licensee because of an NDA that the Canopy side had insisted on hedging in the $40 million settlement with, Barrenechea and Greenblatt said.

Barrenechea said that SCO now regards that NDA as being off because of the legal discovery that’s been going on in SCO’s $5 billion suit against IBM.

See, SCO lawyer Mark Heisse in a letter dated February 4 to IBM lawyer David Marriott at Cravath Swain identified CA, Questar and Leggett & Platt as Linux taxpayers.

According to that letter, which is up on the Groklaw site, Heisse owed IBM a copy of the CA agreement on CD.

Barrenechea said that SCO was dropping CA’s name to associate itself with the “third-largest software company in the world” and build support for its “lost cause.”

But according to Barrenechea, not only are SCO’s IP ambitions doomed, but its Unix interests are a “trailing negative” on the road to dropping from 10% of the market to 3%-5% in a few years and then “SCO will be irrelevant,” he said.

By the way, CA doesn’t have enough UnixWare licenses to cover all its Linux servers, Greenblatt said.

In answer to CA’s contentions, SCO said its lawyers think that CA has a Linux license.

Meanwhile, Bench also told Computer Weekly, whose story was picked up by sister paper InfoWorld and maybe other properties in the IDG stable, that SCO had signed between 10 and 50 Linux licenses.

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