SCO takes on the world

Thanks to a fresh global approach and other new initiatives, The Santa Cruz Operation’s (SCO) waning popularity seems to be back on the rise.

Last month’s launch of the Global Developer Program coincided with a revamped Web site. The program includes new features such as technical papers, porting guides, developer promotions, lower-priced developer kits, support to coders involved in Project Monterey, increased “nitty-gritty, roll-up-your-sleeves” offerings specifically for developers and an ‘internationalizing’ of the applications directory, which allows searches by country or by language.

Long-time SCO developer Rob Kramarz, president of Los Angeles-based software and data protection firm 1776 Inc., said that SCO’s popularity peaked about five years ago.

“Then they dipped and no one was talking about SCO anymore. But then all of a sudden they do this huge deal with IBM.” (This was called Project Monterey — last fall’s initiative which united SCO, IBM, Intel and Sequent to build a 64-bit operating system for Intel’s Merced processor.)

“I think that at the same time SCO moved forward, it recognized that you don’t have a winning operating system unless you have a lot of good applications for it — because the best operating system would be nothing without all those applications. So they realized that they had to really beef up this developer thing, and make it go boom-boom. And that’s what they did,” he said.

“Now all of a sudden people are talking about SCO again. So this improvement in the developer’s program just seems to fit that feeling that things are starting to move; things are happening.”

Greg Schwarzer, director of developer programs at SCO in Santa Cruz, Calif., said that while the company had developer programs scattered throughout North America, Europe and Latin America, these lacked the consistency of one global solution.

“More and more our developers don’t operate in just one specific country or region. They were seeing that…the benefits they got in one place were different from other ones in another place,” he said. “So we weren’t able to guarantee that our developers, no matter where they were, got a base level of development services.”

Most of SCO’s OEM partners already have global services in place, which was another reason the company needed to move in this direction, Schwarzer said.

“We centralized the program so that there’s basically one master database that keeps all of the information about developers on a worldwide basis. And then that allows us to deliver a lot of those benefits from a central location in Santa Cruz.”

In addition to informational and technical services, the program also offers marketing assistance, including worldwide product directories, CDs for redistribution and channel newsletters. In the past, the program lacked worldwide marketing assistance, Schwarzer said. “It’s one thing to get a developer to port to your platform, but making them successful afterwards is a completely other thing.”

SCO developer George Pajari, president of Vancouver-based Faximum Inc., said that as a software development company it is important to get the “warm fuzzies” about the platform you are working on.

“In the past, SCO’s developer program had gone through some transitions, and there were times when we wondered if we were really, truly loved,” he said. “And now, we feel loved again.”

The centralized global program will also be of specific benefit to Canadian developers, who may not have been treated equally in the past, Pajari feels.

“When SCO Canada was first set up, programs were bouncing back and forth between Santa Cruz and Toronto, and for a while you didn’t know who you were supposed to call and in what country,” he said.

“Although we are in Canada, we compete internationally. Our competition is in California, it’s not in Mississauga (Ont.), and we resented being treated as a non-American developer. And now, that’s not the case anymore.”

Developers can join the program by completing the application at Membership is open to all individuals or organizations developing software for resale, educational use, or for the Open Source community.