Market Blows Wind River to Linux

Wind River, one of the world’s top embedded systems suppliers, has joined two key Linux proponent groups and solidified its intention to coexist rather than compete with the open-source operating system.

As a supporter of Unix and its own proprietary VxWorks embedded operating system, Wind River — which also underwent leadership changes last month with the appointment of Ken Klein as president, chairman and chief executive officer — said that many of its telecom equipment and other embedded systems customers have been migrating from “a world of fragmented Unix offerings to Linux, influenced by the Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) specification.”

Wind River announced it would work with the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), a Linux consortium, on its CGL project to provide support for Linux in telecom and networking environments. The Alameda, California embedded systems leader also announced its participation in the Eclipse Consortium, a tool-integration platform built by open-source developers.

“This seems to be a real departure in strategy for Wind River, which did not appear to be in the Linux camp before this,” Yankee Group senior analyst Laura DiDio told LinuxInsider. “Clearly, Wind River had some choices to make.”

Going With the Flow

Wind River vice president and general manager of market divisions Tony Tryba said in a statement that the embedded software leader’s VxWorks operating system is often used in concert with Linux.

Wind River said that while Unix has been traditionally used in “the control and management functions” of telecom and service provider equipment, customers have recently been migrating to Linux.

Aberdeen Group research director Bill Claybrook, who referred to Wind River’s earlier apprehension over the General Public License (GPL) for Linux, told LinuxInsider that the company is simply meeting demand, which is centered on Linux for the embedded space.

“Their [Unix offerings] are not being demanded by anybody,” Claybrook said. “You have to go with the flow if you want to make money.”

Wind River confirmed the company’s concerns, some of which still remain, over the Linux GPL, telling LinuxInsider that Wind River is seeing embedded Linux encroach on the market. “With these announcements, we’re starting to take a step-by-step approach to Linux,” the company said.

A Wind River spokesperson said the company views development tools and services as the “safest place” to incorporate Linux into its strategy, which initially will be aimed at the telecom market.

Getting with Groups

DiDio said Wind River’s participation with the OSDL — which late last week attempted to poke holes in SCO Group’s legal claims against the legitimacy of Linux and the GPL — will allow the embedded software company to have a hand in the direction of standards. Wind River’s participation in the Eclipse Consortium will give the company a say in the way Linux is integrated and interoperable, DiDio said, adding that both announcements were key.

“I think that these are good steps for them,” DiDio said. “The ‘charge’ has been sounded and vendors are looking for the next big area of opportunity where there’s an even playing field and money in the near term. This is it.”

Claybrook said the Wind River alignments were important for both the embedded systems giant and the open-source working groups.

“If you’re going to be in that market, it’s important to be with OSDL,” Claybrook said. “It’s also important to add them to the work group because they’re the largest of all embedded OS vendors.”

Open Game

DiDio said that while embedded systems development is still a niche market, it is growing larger and represents green pastures for Linux vendors because the operating system is already established there.

“Here, Microsoft has not established itself,” she said. “Unix has not established itself, so it’s a real area of strength and opportunity for the Linux vendor.”

DiDio said that she expects similar announcements by other vendors in this space, adding that because the Linux market is still developing, it’s “anybody’s game.”

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