This week, Caldera Systems, Inc. entered into a distribution deal with Tech Data Corp. (Nasdaq: TECD), fueling speculation that the Orem, Utah-based Linux vendor could be “the next Red Hat.” Tech Data, an e-commerce solutions provider, recently announced a Linux Support Center.
The deal will help to push Caldera Systems’ line of business and end-user products — which include the recently released version 2.3 of its OpenLinux operating system (OS) — through a marketing agreement and will serve to enhance its reseller channel partner program. Tech Data’s Linux Support Center will benefit through collaboration on reseller education and technical services.
“Open source software solutions continue to gain momentum in the corporate market as demonstrated by partnerships and support services initiated by such major vendors as IBM and Computer Associates,” stated Maria Johnston, vice president of software product marketing for Tech Data. “Given our in-depth services and capacity to support and configure Linux, Tech Data is positioned as a prime resource to Linux resellers.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Tech Data will offer OpenLinux as a factory-installed OS option for systems made available through its TDEnsemble configuration and assembly centers as well as provide telephone support for Caldera’s products. According to a Tech Data company statement, “Caldera also expects that its executives’ long history of channel experience and its Linux for Business focus will be important in developing the corporate market.”
“Tech Data’s extensive service offering and VAR channel leadership will be instrumental in expanding our presence in corporate accounts,” added Ransom Love, president and CEO of Caldera Systems. “We believe this is the beginning of a great long-term partnership.”
A Caldera IPO?
Some industry analysts feel that Caldera Systems could be at the center of the next successful Linux IPO (initial public offering). MTI Technology is apparently taking the company seriously, and last month completed an equity investment, picking up 5.3 million shares of Caldera Systems’ common stock for a reported $6 million (US$).
“As one of the leading providers of Linux for business, Caldera Systems is well-positioned to continue to expand the market for sophisticated enterprise applications that require large amounts of storage in high-availability data processing environments,” commented Earl Pearlman, president and CEO for MTI.
“We are making sure we have all the business practices and the business model in place so we can have the option of going public or being acquired,” said Benoy Tanang, vice president of marketing for Caldera Systems, in a June 1999 CNET report. The latest deal with Tech Data could nudge the company closer to what could possibly be a high-profile IPO.
International Data Corp. (IDC) figures indicate that Linux grew more than 212 percent and captured more than 17 percent of all server operating system shipments in 1998. According to IDC, more than 12 million end users and organizations now use Linux technologies worldwide. Linux is a freely distributed OS, based on UNIX, which was created in 1991 as an alternative to Windows.