I want to tread carefully here, so I don't sound like a commercial, but I
think much ado is being made about nothing relative to the the DEC-is-the-
only-OSF/1-user thing. First, Digital has a huge engineering staff assigned
to OSF/1, and is NOT dependent upon OSF for future maintenence of the product.
Secondly, Digital is not different in any way from the other vendors in this
issue - Solaris has a SVR4 base, but has many SUN enhancements - further,
Sun has recently made it clear (via a $82 million buyout of licensing rights)
that they want absolute freedom to do as they will with Solaris. In the
final analysis, Digital has DEC/OSF1, Sun has Solaris, HP has HP/UX, etc. -
and each of those companies is the sole support arm for those products.
For all of this, there are phenomemally convoluted cross-licensing agreements
between the various companies. Virtually all the major companies license
critical technology to the others. If the right things are done, the
products conply with standards, and have good compatibility.
As Bob Palmer recently said at Uniforum,
it is standards compliance that matters, and if customers believe that then
customers will spend their dollars with vendors that provide products with
those standards. Digital does as good a job there as any other vendor, and
better than most. Digital is a participant in the COSE processes, and is
a significant technology contributor. Digital is also actively involved in
standars efforts with XOPEN, ANSI, and a myriad of other places.
So, DEC OSF/1 isn't going away. Digital is investing massive amounts of money
and resources in it - certainly on a scale similar to the investments in
Solaris or AIX or HP/UX, and probably larger in some cases. If you have
problems with individual applications vendors, it's not always Digital's
fault - sometimes those vendors have agendas of their own. One way
to help insure that your applications of choice are available where you
want them is to make it clear to the applications vendor that not supporting
your chosen platforms will make you look for applications that do support the
hardware you want. Digital has a very aggressive program in effect to get
ports on OSF/1 - but we can't always convince the software companies. As long
as you, as customers, are willing to allow an application vendor to coerce you
into buying hardware you don't want, they have no incentive to port to our, or
any other platform. It's a matter of simple economics - if they're going to
get the sale no matter what, why incur the cost of a port?
Vote with your dollars. Reward vendors who give you what you want, both
hardware and software. The open systems market has made it clear that
customers don't wan't to be held hostage by hardware vendors with
non-competitive pricing. If the marketplace allows software vendors to
dictate hardware choices, that choice in hardware becomes irrelevant, and
consumers will ultimately see a reduction in competition and an increase
Sorry about the length.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author, and do not necessarily
represent those of Digital Equipment Corporation.