Vintela's Winding Road to Windows

Now pay attention, because this is going to get complicated. Ray Noorda, former head of Novell and at one time owner of WordPerfect, helped to fund the creation of Caldera, a company broken into two distinct entities. Caldera Inc. was a kind of holding company and owned the intellectual property rights to DR-DOS from Digital Research. Caldera used those rights to successfully sue Microsoft for anti-trust violations, winning a settlement worth at least $100 million. Not bad for a $400,000 initial investment.

The other Caldera, Caldera Systems, also had two components. One developed Unix distributions, the other core bits of infrastructure technology, such as a directory for authentication that would compete with Active Directory, Web Based Enterprise Management (WBEM), Kerberos and LDAP.

Much of Noorda's business life and many of his investments have been clearly and aggressively aimed at knocking Bill Gates down a peg or two. Nonetheless, Noorda's investment firm, the Canopy Group, agreed to help pay for a spin-off from Caldera's infrastructure arm, which in 2003 became Vintela, Latin for "to see and protect."

Vintela's mission ever since has been to integrate Linux, Unix, Java and other platforms with Windows, and manage them all through Microsoft management platforms and tools such as Active Directory. "What we needed was an integrated environment based around standards," explains Vintela CEO and co-founder Dave Wilson.

The Lineup

Vintela Authentication Services (VAS): Extends Active Directory authentication to Unix and Linux.

Vintela Group Policy (VGP): Brings policy-based management to Unix and Linux.

Vintela Single Sign-On for Java (VJS): Extends AD authentication to Java and J2EE applications.

Vintela Management Extensions (VMX): Extends Microsoft SMS to Unix, Linux and the Mac.

Vintela Systems Monitor (VSM): Lets Microsoft MOM manage Unix, Linux and the Mac.

Its first product, Vintela Authentication Services (VAS), allows IT pros to manage Unix/Linux authentication via Active Directory. "When we first talked about VAS, people looked at us like we just landed from the planet zog," Wilson says. They aren't laughing now. VAS customers include Merrill Lynch, The Southern Company and Adaptec.

Now Vintela is moving onto overall management. Its newest tools extend Microsoft Operations Manager and Microsoft Systems Management Server to Unix, Linux and the Macintosh. "We have moved people toward the concept that Unix and Windows don't have to be separate islands, they can be integrated into one common system," he says.

Microsoft sees the value of this integration, especially the idea of enabling Windows to control the other platforms. "Take your average Windows salesmen—they've seen this problem for a long time. Our products give them answers to some very hard questions," says Vintela co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Matt Peterson. "We offer the ability for Microsoft to have a dialog with the Unix people."

Last year Microsoft made an investment and is now a minority stakeholder.

So where do Vintela's loyalties truly lie? Is the company aiming to entrench Microsoft or entrench Linux? "We are not in either camp, we are in the users' camp," Peterson says. The company's technology helps both sides: It enables Windows to manage Unix, and makes Unix easier and more cost effective to operate.

Vintela, with its roots in R&D and Linux, still supports open source and is the caretaker of OpenWBEM, an open source implementation of WBEM. Future commercial plans include Unix integration with Longhorn.

And whatever became of the rest of Caldera Systems? When it bought the Unix company SCO, it decided to leave its own name behind, and adopt the SCO moniker as its own.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.


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