No disruption to channel, Aust SCO boss promises

Following the acquisition of Santa Cruz Operation's server software and professional services divisions by Linux specialist Caldera Systems, SCO's Australian management is promising its staffing and channel strategy will remain intact.

Caldera announced its acquisition of the Unix specialist in August, followed this month by the laying-off of 19 per cent of the worldwide SCO workforce. But while much of the Asian operation was effected by the decision, Kieran O'Shaughnessy, SCO's Australia and NZ regional general manager, expects that the only significant change in local operations will be the name of the company.

"All SCO staff in Australia are in the server division that is being sold to Caldera," he said. "Access to SCO's remaining Tarantula products will also continue to go through our division; it will be the same bodies on the ground.

"We should remain static, we have a small team here that has been running at optimum level," he said. "On the Caldera side, there was only one Caldera representative anyway."

Currently SCO's products are distributed by Express Data and MUA, which also sell on to smaller resellers and integrators. O'Shaughnessy sees the move as beneficial to both major distributors, as MUA already distributes Caldera products and Express Data has long been interested in selling larger volumes of the Linux lines Caldera produces.

"Caldera knew that one of the advantages of buying these SCO divisions was that it has also bought a channel infrastructure," he said.

"It values the channel very strongly, so I expect our strategy to remain the same."

O'Shaughnessy also expects Australia to be spared the job cuts SCO has embarked upon to prepare for the acquisition. While smaller sales units have been wiped out elsewhere in Asia, he believes Australia will be left as is.

"The lay-offs were very much dependent on where there were double-ups between the two organisations," he said.

"There have been a few offices close in Asia, but these were generally one-man sales operations. We have decided to concentrate our efforts on India, Taiwan and Australia, our core markets in this part of the world."

O'Shaughnessy sees the Caldera acquisition as being positive for the overall health of SCO, which has experienced sinking revenues and earnings for the past two quarters.

"SCO has been going down the path of its Linux distribution anyway," he said. "With Caldera on board, we can really hit the ground running. It makes a lot of sense to put Unix and Linux together, because in a lot of ways they are the same."

These plans are already in action; the Unix server division has already distributed a beta release of a Linux kernel that will run natively on UnixWare, and by the first quarter of 2001 will have done the same for its OpenServer product.

"We are going to make applications that are able to run from the smaller Linux operating systems, from the desktop up to the largest of our nonstop cluster Unix systems at the top end," O'Shaughnessy said.