SCO name returns as Caldera rebrands itself

Two years after buying the Unix software and services divisions of the former Santa Cruz Operation Inc. (SCO) (see story), Linux and Unix vendor Caldera International Inc. today announced it's changing its name to The SCO Group and reinvigorating its work in the Unix marketplace.

The move, according to the Lindon, Utah-based company, is being made in part to take advantage of the strong brand recognition still associated with the old SCO name. After the acquisition of the two SCO business units in late 2000 (see story), Caldera failed to gain major traction in either the Linux or Unix segments. That led to a corporate restructuring and layoffs last September (see story).

Reg Broughton, a senior vice president of worldwide operations at the company, said today that SCO will maintain both operating systems while adding programs to help resellers and partners market and expand SCO's marketplace penetration.

The move isn't an acknowledgment that the earlier SCO acquisitions by Caldera were a bad choice, Broughton said. "It was the right decision at the time," he said. "Caldera had a good footprint in the Linux market, while SCO had a good footprint in the Unix market. Now, with a new CEO and a new economy, we need to invigorate the company."

The planned name change will require shareholder approval, the company said.

President and CEO Darl McBride said in a statement that the name change "builds on a strong market position, which we will extend as we reinvent the SCO brand."

McBride became Caldera's CEO in June when longtime CEO, president and co-founder Ransom Love stepped down to head the fledgling UnitedLinux effort to create a standardized version of Linux (see story).

Two longtime SCO Unix users called the new strategy a good one, but acknowledged that it comes too late for their companies -- both of which are moving to different operating systems by the end of the year.

Tom Pratt, information systems manager at shipping company Coastal Transportation Inc. in Seattle, said he actually saw improved service and support after Caldera took over the SCO divisions. "There's never been an issue" dealing with Caldera, he said. Pratt said one thing that has surprised him is that Caldera had been promoting its Unix lines in much bigger ways than its Linux line.

By the end of the year, though, Coastal will be moving entirely away from SCO to Red Hat Linux, which supports Informix, a critical database application his company uses.

Roland Priest, a Unix administrator at Philadelphia-based auto parts retailer Pep Boys, said moving back to its Unix roots is a smart move for SCO because it will help keep its strongest customers. Pep Boys, though, will be replacing its SCO Unix software and moving to IBM AIX by the end of the year. "The path has already been set," Priest said.

Analysts said the name change may make the company feel better about itself, but it isn't going to necessarily change its outlook.

Al Gillen, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass., said the renaming "gives you a sense the company is trying to turn itself around," but Caldera is approaching the needed repairs only on the surface. "They're struggling to reposition themselves and trying to regain the momentum that SCO had, but that's going to be hard to do," he said. "The momentum they've had in the last few years has been downhill."

George Weiss, an analyst at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said the move seems to "reinforce really the only viable business model they had," which was in Unix software and services. By going back to the SCO name, the company could regain the brand equity it once had, he said.

Interestingly, Weiss said, the new direction comes just six weeks after Love left as CEO and president. "It looks to me like it's almost a move on the part of the board that [Love] was leading them into areas where they just didn't feel confident anymore," he said.

When Caldera announced the acquisitions of the SCO divisions in August 2000, the company saw the move as the right one because it would merge the scalability of Unix with the flexibility of the open-source Linux operating system.

With the name change:

  • Caldera OpenLinux becomes SCO Linux powered by UnitedLinux.
  • Caldera Open UNIX becomes SCO UnixWare.
  • The Caldera Partner Program becomes TeamSCO.
  • Caldera Global Services becomes SCO Global Services.
  • SCO OpenServer retains its name.

In related announcements, the company said in a statement that it will soon ship upgraded new versions of OpenServer 5.0.7, UnixWare 7.1.3 and SCO Linux 4.0.

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Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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