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Love Finds a Way? -- Microsoft Invests in Vintela
Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 08:24 AM EST

Stephen Shankland has an article about the SCO/Microsoft relationship, in which he tries to determine if Microsoft is really actively backing SCO financially or if it's all just a mirage and a series of weird coincidences or legitimate business moves on the part of a passive ally:
Paying the license fees could indicate that Microsoft simply believes SCO's Unix ownership claims have merit. But doesn't arranging the BayStar investment reveal Microsoft's ulterior motive? After all, why would you want to help prop up a company that is demanding millions in royalty fees from you?

That may not be far off the mark, according to a key BayStar executive.

"Microsoft obviously has an interest in this, and their interest is obviously in keeping their operating system on top," says Larry Goldfarb, managing partner of BayStar.

Without naming names, Goldfarb explained that BayStar received a call from a "senior" Microsoft employee, but not Chairman Bill Gates or Chief Executive Steve Ballmer. "When they started telling me what it was, I wasn't shocked (that) this was something they'd like to see prevail."

Does MS love SCO or not? They love SCO, they love them not, they're backing SCO, they're backing them not.

I suggest you read this little gem, by Mary Jo Foley, about Microsoft throwing some investment money in the general direction of Lindon, Utah. A company that spun off from SCO is the happy beneficiary of a reported $10 million, give or take a million:

"Microsoft made a minority investment on Monday in Unix/Linux management vendor Vintela on Monday.

"Neither Microsoft nor Lindon, City, Utah-based Vintela would comment on the size of the investment. But sources said the amount was under $10 million."

Vintela is a privately held corporation, I hear, so I guess that means we'll never know where that money goes or doesn't go. Heaven only knows, a "free-falling litigation machine" could probably use a hand, even if it's just business thrown their way via the Vintela product. Has love found a way?

Foley reports:

"One of Vintela's core products, Vintela Authentication Services (VAS), allows Unix/Linux users to authenticate against Active Directory. A number of vendors, including SCO, build on top of VAS."

Let's just say it's all in the Canopy family. And here are some pages of SCO touting their Vintela Authentication product. Here is a bit about Vintela from Information Week:

"Vintela began as a project within Santa Cruz Operations before it was acquired by Caldera Systems (Caldera later changed its name to SCO Group). Vintela spun out of SCO Group as an independent company and began shipping its authentication services in April 2003."

What a small world. Why, say, April of 2003 is a month after SCO filed its lawsuit against IBM. When did Microsoft send their money to SCO again? I believe it was May 19, 2003 that it was announced. Microsoft has been working with Vintela for a while now, in any case, because they demonstrated the "management of non-Windows resources through VMX at IT Forum" in November of 2003.

Here is a list of their executives, who appear to all be ex-Center 7 or Computer Associates guys. One of them is an ex-Franklin Covey guy, the company that is Darl McBride's old alma mater. The CTO is from SCO, meaning oldSCO, and before that Novell. The president is also an oldSCO man. "One of Dave's key roles has been to establish the business model and a unique relationship with Microsoft."

Here and here are pages on what their products will do for you. You can stay in a Windows environment, using Windows tools like Active Directory, and if you have UNIX and Linux computers in your business too, you can access those operating systems without ever leaving your happy Windows home. One password fits all, and you can sudo away in Windows, so organizations can "leverage their existing investment in Microsoft products and technologies by adding the ability to integrate and manage Unix, Linux, Java, and Mac environments through Microsoft systems and interfaces."

I read that as saying you don't have to switch to Linux. Just stay where you are, and nobody gets hurt.

They market their products, identity management and systems management software products, as a way to comply with regulations such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley, a way for easy interoperability in mixed environments, because they say they build their products on standards and protocols (such as WBEM, CIM, LDAP, and Kerberos), and a way to migrate from AIX to Windows. So is this the bugle call of the cavalry coming to save SCO's ... bottom line? Or just another happy coincidence that Microsoft just has to have this product and doesn't have any coders to do it for them or just has no more appetite for stealing the innovation of smaller companies like in the bad olde days, when Vintela would have awakened one morning to find Microsoft, after long negotiations, had decided it didn't need its product after all, only to have Microsoft come out with a clone shortly thereafter, which it would bundle into Windows and give away? No, no. This is the new Microsoft. They'd rather invest $10 million to help the little guy grow. A "unique relationship", indeed.

Here's a glowing review by eWeek. Just one little thing. Guess what was the one thing that didn't work so well?

"During tests, we were able to apply group policies with ease to users logging in to a variety of Linux operating systems, including Novell Inc.'s SuSE Linux. But this ease came only after some painstaking configuration of VAS on SuSE Linux systems running on IBM 325 eServers."

Funny. Vintela is a Unix/Linux management company, so they should know how to make Linux work. I'm sure they'll want to fix that right away. Otherwise folks might get the idea that Novell's Linux doesn't work well. Or might the problem be IBM servers?

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