Diggin' technology every day

July 27, 2012

Microsoft Licenses Linux to Amdocs

Filed under: General — Tags: , — Nate @ 3:00 pm

Microsoft has been fairly successful in strong arming licensing fees from various Android makers, though less successful in getting fees directly from operators of Linux servers.

It seems one large company, Amdocs, has caved in though.

The patent agreement provides mutual access to each company’s patent portfolio, including a license under Microsoft’s patent portfolio covering Amdocs’ use of Linux-based servers in its data centers.

I almost worked for Amdocs way back in the day. A company I was at was acquired by them, I want to say less than two months after I left the company. Fortunately I still had the ability to go back and buy my remaining stock options and got a little payout from it. One of my former co-workers said that I walked away from a lot of money.  I don’t know how much he got but he assured me he spent it quickly and was broke once again! I don’t know many folks at the company still since I left it many years ago, but everything I heard sounds like the company turned out to be as bad as I expected, and I don’t think I would of been able to put up with the politics or red tape for the retention periods following the acquisition as it was already bad enough to drive me away from the company before they were officially acquired.

I am not really surprised Amdocs licensed Linux from Microsoft. I was told an interesting story a few years ago about the same company. They were a customer of Red Hat for Enterprise Linux, and Oracle enticed them to switch to Oracle Enterprise Linux for half the cost they were paying Red Hat. So they opted to switch.

The approval process had to go through something like a dozen layers in order to get processed, and at one point it ends up on the desk of the head legal guys at Amdocs corporate. He quickly sent an email to the new company they just acquired about a year earlier that the use of Linux or any open source software was forbidden and they had to immediately shut down any Linux systems they had. If I recall right this was on a day before a holiday weekend. My former company was sort of stunned and laughed a bit, they had to sent another letter up the chain of command which I think reached the CEO or the person immediately below the CEO of the big parent who went to the lawyer and said they couldn’t shut down their Linux systems because all of the business flowed through Linux, and they weren’t about to shut down the business on a holiday weekend, well that and the thought of migrating to a new platform so quickly was sort of out of the question given all the other issues going on at the time.

So they got a special exclusion to run Linux and some other open source software, which I assume is still run to this day. It was the first of three companies (in a row no less) that I worked at that started out as Microsoft shops, then converted to Linux (in all three cases I was hired on a minimum of 6-12 months after they made the switch).

Another thing the big parent did was when they came over to take over the corporate office they re-wired everything into a secure and insecure networks. The local linux systems were not allowed on the secure network only the insecure one(and they couldn’t do things like check email from the insecure network). They tried re-wiring it over a weekend and if I recall right they were still having problems a week later.

Fun times I had at that company, I like to tell people I took 15 years of experience and compressed it into three, which given some of the resumes I have come across recently 15 years may not be long enough. It was a place of endless opportunity, and endless work hours. I’d do it again if I could go back I don’t regret it, though it came at a very high personal cost which took literally a good five years to recover from fully after I left(I’m sure some of you know the feeling).

I wouldn’t repeat the experience again though – I’m no longer willing to put up with outages that last for 10+ hours(had a couple that lasted more than 24 hours), work weeks that extend into the 100 hour range with no end in sight. If I could go back in time and tell myself whether or not to do it – I’d say do it, but I would not accept a position at a company today after having gone through that to repeat the experience again – just not worth it.  A few years ago some of the execs from that company started a new company in a similar market and tried to recruit a bunch of us former employees pitching the idea “it’ll be like the good ‘ol days”, they didn’t realize how much of a turn off that was to so many of us!

I’d be willing to bet the vast majority of Linux software at Amdocs is run by the company I was at, at last check I was told it was in the area of 2,000 systems (all of which ran in VMware) – and they had switched back to Red Hat Enterprise again.

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