Apparently not satisfied with the 12,000 Linux customers it claims to have under its belt, IBM is ramping up yet another major Linux initiative and this time, it has put Sun's Solaris squarely into its crosshairs. Big Blue has formalized a formulaic Solaris-to-Linux migration assessment program and, starting today, it is making that program available at no charge to Solaris shops that are seriously considering the move. Using the same team from IBM's Sector7 acquisition that put together the Chiphopper program, not only will IBM do a complete migration analysis that includes full configuration of any of IBM's Linux-enabled targets (from x86 servers to mainframes); the company says it won't charge you a penny if, after going through the assessment, you elect not to migrate.
It seems like a no-brainer. If you're a Solaris shop, what do you have to lose buy having the assessment done? According to IBM's Scott Handy, the man in charge of Big Blue's global Linux push, the answer is nothing. Given all the stops that IBM is pulling out to move its customers to Linux, "nothing" also appears to be what IBM will stop at in order to advance its Linux footprint. During my interview of him (available as an MP3 that can be downloaded or, if you’re already subscribed to ZDNet’s IT Matters series of audio podcasts, it will show up on your system or MP3 player automatically. See ZDNet’s podcasts: How to tune in), Handy talked about how a similar free program for Solaris-to-AIX assessments was so successful, that they decided to clone it for Linux. Another reason to start the program, according to Handy,is that approximately 25 percent of the 12,000 "Linux engagements" that IBM claims to already have were Solaris migrations.
In the interview, Handy explains the free "pre-funded" nature of the program and how it will be available from IBM's resellers as well. He talks about a 35-city tour that IBM is embarking on where customers and IBM's business partners (the resellers) will be able attend a presentation that describes the program (particularly for moving to one of the OpenPower platforms). Handy goes on to discuss why the program involves Red Hat Linux and not Novell's SuSE Linux, whether or not IBM is attempting to ween itself from dependence on Microsoft and why, in acquiring an open source provider of J2EE solutions, IBM passed up JBoss and the opportunity to double it's J2EE marketshare by acquiring the little known Gluecode instead. He also discusses the future of AIX, particularly because of how out of balance IBM's Linux efforts are compared to AIX, and questions whether Sun's Janus -- a technology that allows binaries designed to run on Red Hat Linux to run unchanged on Solaris -- will actually matter. Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
Handy on how the assessment will include a recommendation of any of IBM's Linux targets:
To drive business moving from Solaris to Linux on IBM eServer, so the funding is coming from the team behind the eServer. This could be Solaris to xSeries, Solaris to bladecenter, Solaris to Linux on the mainframe, or Solaris to any of the Power platforms -- OpenPower: Linux on iSeries, Linux on pSeries. This also includes storagel. A lot of customers, when they migrate servers, also want to migrate their storage capabilities and do an infrastructure simplification and get TCO reduction on their storage. Customers don’t have to decide upfront what’s the right server for their workload. The assessment team can come in and help them with that.
Handy on Sun's Janus technology (a technology for running Linux applications unchanged on Solaris):
There’s about 6,000 applications that run on Linux. Those ISVs tend to certify on one or two or sometimes more distributions. But most ISVs certify on Red Hat Linux and Novell’s SuSE Linux. Those are the two they certify. What we’re finding from talking to our Wall Street customers is that very few if any of the ISVs that they require for mission critical business have certified on Linux running in an emulation mode. While [Sun] claims [it will] work, the ISVs have to certify support in that environment such that if a customer has a problem at 2am on a Friday night that somebody is going to take the support call and support that environment.
Handy on what IBM is doing to make sure the most important Solaris apps are ready to go on Linux:
We surveyed 23 of the top Wall Street accounts and got the list of ISVs who still had yet to move to Linux; and in that set of surveys, we identified [58 applications from 24 ISVs] that were really critical in order to get the mainstream Solaris environment over to Linux and we went on an effort to really recruit those [ISVs]. Twenty-two of those ISVs have committed to move 48 of those applications and 33 of them are already available. Those same ISVs are being courted to move to Solaris 10 on x86. That’s not a freebie either. These ISVs have to move off of Solaris SPARC to take advantage of this price/performance.
Is IBM making all the right moves? Give the interview a listen and share your opinions with your fellow readers using ZDNet's Talkback (click on "Comments" below).
Update: Sun has responded to IBM's announcement, calling it an act of desperation.