Have you partaken in the conspiracy theories about Microsoft’s recent investment in Vintela, a Unix-Windows integration software company? Vintela’s association with SCO, and Microsoft’s apparent interest in keeping SCO’s legal battle against IBM afloat in order to undermine Linux, certainly provide plenty of kindling to keep the home fires burning at conspiracy central. But let’s try to get the story straight first. OSNews interviewed Vintela President Dave Wilson.
When Unix-Windows integration software vendor Vintela announced a couple weeks ago that it was receiving a substantial investment from Microsoft, initially the tech media picked up the story because it was interesting that Microsoft was making a move into Unix integration. However, as people started to realize Vintela’s pedigree, conspiracy theories started flying left and right on OSNews’ comment section and all over the internet. Vintela’s product saw its birth inside Caldera Systems, a once-well-respected Linux vendor that transformed into an excoriated whipping boy of the Linux movement after its acquisition of once-well-respected SCO and subsequent legal attack on IBM, and by extension, Linux itself.
Vintela and Caldera-Now-SCO are both primarily funded by the Canopy Group, a tech fund founded by Novell’s Ray Noorda. They both have offices in a complex in Lindon, Utah that houses several Canopy companies. These companies also provide business to each other, and have various partnerships with each other, which is a good way to support each other and share resources. But how does it look when a company that’s seen as attacking Linux (SCO), that nowadays is in business in large part thanks to money that it has received from Microsoft, directly ($16 million for Unix licenses) and indirectly ($50 million from Baystar capital, whom Microsoft brought to SCO), has a sibling who receives another investment from Microsoft? For the tinfoil hat set, at least, it looks fishy.
For more on the SCO/MS relationship, see this Techrepublic article
But while it seems pretty likely that Microsoft is using SCO as some kind of warrior-by-proxy against the Linux threat, the Vintela investment looks as if it could be merely a shrewd move to give Microsoft a foot in the door into an IT world that increasingly wants Linux and Unix in the shop. How can we separate fact from wild speculation? Well, that’s not ever easy. But we can start by asking for some straight answers from the players themselves, so we asked Dave Wilson, President of Vintela, to answer a few questions:
1. OSNews: Can you briefly explain, to our readers who might be unfamiliar with your products, what Vintela does? (Keep in mind that our readers are operating system enthusiasts, so you can be pretty technical, and a focus on OS-related functionality will be appreciated).
Wilson: Vintela develops integration products that allow an enterprise organization to extend the infrastructure technologies and tools they use in the Windows world to the non-Windows world. For example Vintela Authentication Services (VAS) allows Unix and Linux systems to act as full citizens in an Active Directory domain—creating a true single sign-on trusted zone for all systems. VAS eliminates the need for expensive and complex synchronization or meta-directory solutions. Similarly Vintela Management Extensions (VMX) extends the reach of Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 to Unix, Linux, and Mac OS X systems, creating a single point of management for the entire enterprise. Each Vintela solution provides the best of both worlds —- leveraging the scalability and integration of a Windows solution with the unique personality of a Unix or Linux system. Key to this integration is the fact that 95 percent of our software is Unix code, and uses standards based native Unix/Java utilities (Kerberos, LDAP, PAM, NSS, WBEM, etc). The objective is to enhance the user and developer environment for Unix, Java, etc, but minimizes the need to duplicate management and directory tools. We offer the user the opportunity to get as close as possible to a single integrated IT environment, built on standards.
2. Microsoft was already a key partner of yours before the investment. Can you briefly describe your company’s relationship with Microsoft? And how will that relationship change, post-investment?
Vintela and Microsoft enjoy a strong relationship and this broad range of agreements put that on a more formal basis. They will allow both companies to commit to development deliverables that are better aligned to satisfy customer demand for management of heterogeneous environments. The agreements have created an overall framework for Microsoft to work with a partner like Vintela on licensing the use of Microsoft technology in a non-Microsoft world, and that includes products such as Active Directory and SMS, and protocols and technologies as they relate to Unix, etc. Microsoft PSS will also be able to provide first level support for VMX/SMS, with a view to extending this in the future.. Vintela will be including Microsoft Client Access Licenses (CAL) with purchases of Vintela products, as applicable so that customers don’t need to negotiate separate licensing issues with Microsoft when, for example, their SMS installation suddenly expands beyond Windows to also include Unix and Linux clients. This is all designed to allow the best possible quality of product integration and create a seamless customer experience.
3. Your products provide interoperability between Windows and Unix or Linux systems, and industry analysts have pointed out that Microsoft might support a product like that because it would make it easier for them to get a foothold in a company that has a lot of Unix or Linux in place, in order to eventually supplant those systems. Do you think that such a scenario would actually play out that way? Or would a company just end up continuing to use its heterogeneous setup forever?
It is fair to say that almost all companies use Microsoft products and most of those use Unix and Java as well. Heterogeneity is a reality, and it is likely to remain that way. Vintela works with users who are looking to consolidate a complex maze of duplicate infrastructure management tools. Microsoft is under the same customer pressure. Each Directory Service, or systems management tool, etc, requires it own infrastructure, which is not only very expensive but it even prevents movements to SSO, etc. There is a move away from multiple “point solutions” towards a rationalized approach to management around open standards. In Bill Gates’ Keynote at IT Forum he specifically spoke of Microsoft’s efforts to integrate heterogeneous systems and singled out Vintela as their chosen partner to help make that happen. Vintela views these agreements as Microsoft making a mature and intelligent move in response to customer demand. Listening to customers is always a good decision. These agreements are about customers use of SMS, MOM, Active Directory, DotNet, etc where the customer is using both XP and Unix, etc
4. On the flip side, other analysts have suggested that Vintela’s products might be seen as a threat to Microsoft’s dominance of IT, because it would allow systems that run only (or run best) on Windows to be integrated with a primarily Unix or Linux shop without going all Microsoft. Do you think this is a correct characterization? And if so, what would your response be to the assertion that Microsoft is making this investment to have some degree of control over this potential threat?
It is very clear that Microsoft is a company that is very focused on providing Microsoft-product solutions for its customers, and historically has relied on partners to provide the “Total Solution”. In this particular case we believe that Microsoft understands that the customer is demanding a very high quality, and tightly integrated, “Total Solution” and Microsoft is investing in making that a reality. Vintela has great depth in Unix and Java skills. If we are able to work closely together, then we will be providing the best overall solution. In making this investment Microsoft is definitely getting involved to make this happen.
5. Can you tell us about the licensing agreement that’s also a part of your new relationship with Microsoft?
The Licensing agreements cover a number of different categories. First of all the Vintela products are tightly integrated with the Microsoft products and make use of Microsoft protocols, and patented technologies. Secondly, the Vintela products operate as integral with products like SMS and Active Directory, in such a way that the Unix user needs to be licensed in the same way as the Windows user. Vintela and Microsoft have signed a series of agreements that cover all of these contingencies, and takes account of different circumstances including Education, major accounts, etc.
6. I understand that the Vintela products grew from technology developed at Caldera. Is there any connection between the Vintela technology and DR-DOS, which Caldera took over from Novell back in the day?
Vintela has former associations with Caldera Systems, who where one of the original Linux distributions, and pioneered many ground breaking developments for Linux. Caldera of DR-DOS fame is a separate entity and as such has no associations with Vintela.
7. On the subject of Caldera, IT conspiracy theorists are quick to point out a connection between SCO Group (which is the product of the merger of Caldera and SCO) and Vintela, noting that Microsoft’s support for a company affiliated with SCO is not only noteworthy, but highly suspicious. What is Vintela’s current affiliation with SCO? To ask the question more directly, both SCO and Microsoft have made major efforts to undermine Linux’s foothold in the IT world. Since your company is connected to both of these firms, do you think Vintela’s products will end up helping or hindering the wider use of Linux in enterprise IT adoption, long term?
Many of your questions are aimed at trying to determine if Vintela is in the Microsoft “camp” or the Linux “camp”. Vintela is in the user camp, and one of the reasons that Microsoft is so interested in Vintela is that the users are voting for this approach to IT by adopting our products, in large numbers. An analyst once described Vintela as the Switzerland of the OS management world in that we maintain a careful balance that is aimed at doing what the customer wants in his overall IT environment. If the whole world moved to Microsoft, OR to Linux (or even to Sun, or IBM) then Vintela would have no business. Vintela instruments standards consistently across Linux, Sun, HP, etc and those standards are common to Microsoft management products – Kerberos, LDAP, WBEM/CIM, etc. The user is looking for proper integration around standards that are consistently implemented on all platforms, so that they can reduce duplication of redundant infrastructure. Vintela is a completely independent company that passionately believes in this mission.
8. The Vintela product seems to have initially been called “SCO Authentication for Microsoft Active Directory,” and was renamed “Vintela Authentication from SCO” but the Vintela organization was apparently spun-off from Center7, another Canopy Group company. Is this a correct characterization of the Vintela history? And can you expand on that a bit?
First of all it is important to understand that Vintela is an independent company, and the vast majority of our products have been developed as that company, or by Wedgetail, a company acquired by Vintela. Some of the original R&D work was done at Caldera Systems, as part of their investment in Linux and Open Standards technology, specifically the Kerberos and WBEM work. The Founders of Vintela approached Canopy, who had historically invested very heavily in Linux-related development, and they agreed to support an effective Management Buy Out (MBO) and incubate the focused development of these management related tools under Center 7, who itself is a managed Services company. Vintela subsequently became independent. Vintela had agreed to OEM the Vintela products to SCO, when they were complete as part of the MBO. The products you refer to were all VAS under an SCO brand.
9. On the subject of history, the “official” history of your company, listed on your web site is quite short on detail. It makes no mention of Caldera, SCO, or Center7. Is that because those companies have waged controversial legal battles that have brought negative attention to them and their investor, the Canopy Group?
The Vintela website refers to our history as Vintela, and nothing else. Vintela is an interesting company in that it is a fairly young company, whose technology has been under development for a much longer period of time, in a variety of corporate identities and geographic locations. The history of many companies is equally convoluted. Vintela has no involvement in SCO’s litigation and would neither benefit nor suffer from an outcome either way. There is nothing to hide, but also there’s nothing of substance to tell. As we have outlined above some of our R&D (and staff) originated at Caldera Systems, who played a major role in establishing Linux as a serious technology in our industry, and the people who worked for Caldera Systems are very proud of their achievements. Many of those people continue to drive innovation – as part of Vintela or SuSe, or Novell, etc., but we need to focus in on Vintela.
Well designed questions, and excellent answers.
But it really does seem that MS did a very calculated move with this investment. Tinfoil hats off everyone.
“Vintela has no involvement in SCO’s litigation and would neither benefit nor suffer from an outcome either way.”
Isn’t this a bit of a short-sighted view? (‘scuse the pun)
I was under the impression that, although it isn’t the major part of the case, SCO’s team are vying to have the GPL labelled as “illegal”.
Surely if SCO “won” their case, and the GPL was labelled deemed to be illegal, then Vintela would have some problems at least?
I know Vintela are not a Microsoft/Linux integration solutions company, but a Microsoft/*nix integration solutions company, but if Linux was taken out of the picture (by way of the GPL being “illegal”), then that would potentially knock out a fair-sized proportion of Vintela’s customer base?
Or am I being the short-sighted one?
After reading this interview Microsoft’s intentions with Vintela and their products became actually quite clear to me.
Microsoft can charge additional license fees for *nix and macosx clients, while at the same time keeping tight control over their proprietary management tools, authentication services and their related protocols, adding another layer of lock-in.
I don’t think Vintela has evil intentions. There is definately a need for such products. I work at a large corperation myself and we are struggling with the same problems that Vintela’s customers do.
I must also admit that I would be more enthousiastic to a different approach with a (preferably open) non-microsoft product holding all the strings. I guess Novell/IBM/HP and the like will solve that issue if they haven’t already.
This guy was never going to admit that they are in bed with SCO and Microsoft. But you do the math,
1) You are in the same building as SCO
2) Share many of the same investors and parent companies.
3) Some of your current technology emanated in Caldera->SCO and now is being resold by them.
4) You both get money from Microsoft. It would make much more sense to have seen an investment in Vintela from HP, SUN or even Red Hat.
No need for tinfoil hats. If it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, it must be a …
What SCO(TM) Litigation? You need to perview GrokLaw once and while to see how badly it is going for this company. The judges appear to have had their fill and are denying motions by this company.
They were mighty tightly tied to MS long before anyone spent a dollar on investment. Their thing is integration between nix and Windows. While there are many sources of nix, there is but one source of Windows. So MS has by far their largest single partner no matter how you slice it.
I’ve yet to see a smaller company turn down an investment from a corporation the size of MS. The idea of any business is to make a profit, and the capital from this investment will go a long ways to insure they do exactly that.
If you believe everything MS does is a conspiracy you are in for a very very long period of tension and stress.
They ain’t going away anytime soon.
The idea of any business is to make a profit, and the capital from this investment will go a long ways to insure they do exactly that
How so true it is,however it’s the goverments task to see to it that there aren’t evolving unhealthy cartels.Great investment though.
I agree 100%; these were great answers.
I’d prefer to see a product that used *nix technologies to incorporate Windows clients, but I suppose the most marketable, unified way to achieve these ends would be the other way around (Windows technologies incorporating *nix clients), as Vintela is doing.
Vintela develops integration products that allow an enterprise organization to extend the infrastructure technologies and tools they use in the Windows world to the non-Windows world.
He’s got a masters degree in nonsesical marketing speech, with focus on prolongation of solution feature list and repetition of approved industry-standard buzzwords.
Come on people, that aren’t decent technical answers.
If Vintela is using GNU tools, they must provide the source for any of the altered GNU tools they are using.
“He’s got a masters degree in nonsesical marketing speech, with focus on prolongation of solution feature list and repetition of approved industry-standard buzzwords.
Come on people, that aren’t decent technical answers.”
He doesn’t owe anyone technical answers. He is marketing a proprietary product, and has no reason to give the world a tech briefing when all he agreed to was an interview.
He was asked, flat out, what is the relationship between SCO and Vintela. He never answered the question. He answered a different question by rewording it. I didn’t exactly expect better from them, but I am disappointed that so many of the comments don’t see through this.
These guys drank the Microsoft Kool-Aid by accepting the investement, and signing agreements. As soon as Microsoft sees potential for profit in the product, Vintela will be cast aside like a useless husk.
Look for seamless Unix/Linux authentication in the next big version of Windows server, and curtains for Vintela. I hope that the execs at least negotiated decent golden parachutes.
Vintella is a spin-off of SCO, the interview did not make that clear enough. Caldera & Vintella were once a single company.
They are currently funded by the same people, are in the same building, have extensive collaborations etc.
Anybody can draw their own conclusions but there is no need to obscure these facts if there is no conspiracy.
Was he the CA guy that was hired at Center 7 after the $40 Million CA deal with Canopy?
Just curious if that was Dave of someone else. I know one of th CA guys went to Vintela.
Here is my take:
if Linux was taken out of the picture … then that would potentially knock out a fair-sized proportion of Vintela’s customer base?
No, not really. That is why I love IT: it changes all the time.
Yes, it was Linux integration to Windows networks yesterday, but today or tomorrow it will be Solaris integration into Windows networks.
With MS and Sun as close to be bedfellows as ever, Vintela sudenly finds itself in the position when Microsoft and UNIX vendor are willing to work with it, help it financially and with all other means, to make Vintela software work seamlessly.
I would not be surprised if some time from now Chairman Bill will be able to show the great wonders of heterogenious Solaris-Windows network, thanks to Vintela.
Linux is yesterday news. With Sun in the picture, with free (as in free of charge) Solaris for x86 platform, Vintela happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Imagine the future, when Microsoft recommends Solaris for UNIX-and-Windows environment, and Sun proudly shines “Designed for Windows Active Directory” logo on its free (CAL not included:) Solaris for x86 desktop.
Linux? What Linux?
The questions made and answers given were excellent. It looks like you guys got the scoop on this interview and created the reference Q&A for the entire situation.
I appreciate that he uses buzz words in quotes. It makes them less annoying somehow.
“Imagine the future, when Microsoft recommends Solaris for UNIX-and-Windows environment, and Sun proudly shines “Designed for Windows Active Directory” logo on its free (CAL not included:) Solaris for x86 desktop.”
Exactly. It will alter a lot of landscape instantly. Even at significant cost this would be very popular. Active Directory is the ace in the hole in the entire deal, either you have it or you don’t. Once you have it in-house, it’s likely there to stay.
The spokesperson for Vintela did not mention when asked about the current affiliation/relationship that SCO does in fact have (or had) a financial stake in Vintela in the form of a $500k promissary note per page 29 of this SEC filing
http://www.shareholder.com/Common/Edgar/1102542/1047469-04-5973/04-00.pdf (search for Vintela within the PDF). So it seems that via this financial relationship SCO is/was funding Vintela.
Vintela is a great investment. SCO thought so several years ago, and MS thought so lately. Frankly if I had a few million in cash floating freely, I would be doing the same.
It’s simply a damn good investment to buy into companies with potentially explosive growth potential.
Vintela is setting in an extremely prime situation, MS is their largest partner, and they happen to be tied to one of the larger Unix suppliers. When we get to the end of the rainbow, a huge chunk of this makes sense considering they are after all a Unix/Windows infrastructure company.
If Vintela is using GNU tools, they must provide the source for any of the altered GNU tools they are using.
Try reading the GPL: http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html
Not everyone who modifies any GPL code is required to make it available to anyone that requests it.
If they distribute modified binaries to you, then you may request the source code. The party also reserves the right to charge you shipping on said code.
This is a common misconception, please think before you attack.
Actually, you’re wrong.
From the GPL:
“3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:
a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,
b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,
c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)
The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it. For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable. However, as a special exception, the source code distributed need not include anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component itself accompanies the executable.
If distribution of executable or object code is made by offering access to copy from a designated place, then offering equivalent access to copy the source code from the same place counts as distribution of the source code, even though third parties are not compelled to copy the source along with the object code.”
It says if you distribute object code, not modified object code. Basically if you buy Vintela’s product, you can request the source code and they MUST comply. Either by allowing you to download the full source code of that program and any modifications made to the source code, or by sending you a CD and charging the cost of the media and shipping only. I’m sure that charing you $30 for a cd would not be considered reasonable for the cost of the media and shipping.
Actually, you’re wrong.
Maybe sort of.
Nicholas was referring to Vintela’s “altered GNU tools”.
In my response “If they distribute modified binaries to you” I was referring to Nicholas’s statement.
And you missed my point, Nicholas did not purchase Vintela’s product and therefore is NOT entitled to the source code. Not even for $30 whole dollars.
The $500K note you refer to was for the IP that Vintela acquired from SCO 2 years ago. SCO was getting ready for their IBM litigation and was putting on a fire sale of anything that wasn’t core to their new “business” model. The founders of Vintela saw some potential value in that IP, and guess what? It looks like they were right.