Every now and then, industry observers have to stick their necks out and this is one of those occasions. No ifs, no buts - Project Monterey may be nearing its release date, but it will find that it has only a short life span. Why, oh why, I hear you ask, is the flagship OS to be left by the wayside? The answer is simple - Windows 2000 and Linux will make Monterey an irrelevance.
Project Monterey was launched a couple of years ago as a joint project between SCO, IBM, Sequent, Intel and Compaq. The plan was (and still is) to produce a Unix operating system for Intel's IA-64 platform. The intention was that the Unix-based PC server would become as much of commodity item as the Windows-based PC client - a standard supported by the majority of hardware manufacturers and software vendors, with the resulting economies of scale for suppliers and customers alike.
As usual, in the duration of the project, the technology world has changed. There are two major changes which should be looked at. First, we should consider Microsoft. At the inception of Project Monterey, Microsoft was on the back foot when it came to server operating systems. Attempts by the company to demonstrate the scalability of Windows NT were not impressing the new generation of infrastructure customers, and Unix was becoming the OS of the Web. Microsoft has taken its time and now, with Windows 2000, it is in a position to fight back at least at the lower end of the server market.
Second, Linux has moved from academia to the mainstream, winning mindshare as the commodity operating system that Monterey had designs on becoming. The strength of Linux's position is in the fact that it has been ported not only to IA-64 but also to just about every platform under the sun. Last summer it was already being reported that Monterey consortium members, whilst remaining bullish about Monterey on IA-64, were tellingly quiet about porting the new OS to other platforms. The attitude to Linux could not be more different: last week, for example, IBM announced that services and software were now available for Linux on the S/390 mainframe. According to CRN News, Greg Burke, VP of Linux for S/390 saw this step as a revitalisation of the S/390 platform and of mainframes in general. This line just doesn't tie up with IBM's current stance about Linux being an interim step for customers wanting to move to higher end systems running AIX or Monterey - after all you can't get much higher than a mainframe. Try asking Mr Burke when Monterey will be available for S/390.
Ultimately it will be the customer that decides, and it is here that we are already seeing the last nails in Monterey's coffin. According to the Register on Friday last, Fujitsu Siemens already has around 60 customers who are trialling 4-way Itanium servers based on the IA-64 architecture. And what about the operating systems the prospective customers are choosing? Most users want Windows 2000, others ask for Linux but hardly anyone is interested in Monterey, said a source from Fujitsu Siemens. Telling stuff.