Pushing IBM Around

Pushing IBM Around

Summary: When a politician wants to send a signal to a rival they can do it by "privately" meeting with an opponent in a way they're certain will become public. Thus Microsoft's flirtation with Red Hat is really aimed at sending a message to IBM.

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TOPICS: IBM
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When a politician wants to send a signal to a rival they can do it by "privately" meeting with an opponent in a way they're certain will become public.

Thus Microsoft's flirtation with Red Hat is really aimed at sending a message to IBM. The message: you can't have it both ways.

Open source gives IBM a measure of control in the operating systems arena with neither cost nor risk. IBM no longer has an operating system. Instead it has customers install Red Hat Linux.

By talking in a New York restaurant with the head of Red Hat, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer let IBM know this arrangement can't continue. If Microsoft does buy Red Hat it makes IBM dependent on a Microsoft operating system. IBM can't have that.

The obvious response then is to switch distros, but beyond the inconvenience factor who has one that IBM would feel safe giving its customers? Or IBM could buy Red Hat, and CEO Matt Szulik (left, from our friends at News.Com) has a bidding war that gets Red Hat out of its current problems and turns him into a hero.

So what should IBM do? Well, it needs to look at all its options, with the comfort of its customers uppermost in its mind. I've already mentioned two options. It could switch distro providers or buy Red Hat. Here are two more. It could create an IBM Linux distro or buy another distro provider, such as Novell, whose SUSE Linux may be a good option for IBM's customers.

All these possibilities entail risk. Would another distro provider be able to serve the needs of IBM customers as well as Red Hat does? How much might Red Hat cost, especially with Microsoft at the poker table? How would open source advocates respond to IBM's overt presence in the open source world? Is Novell really a good fit for IBM?

Until IBM makes a decision, and executes on it, then uncertainty will live in the heart of every IBM customer with Linux in their enterprise.

Which I think was Ballmer's idea all along.

Some lunch, huh? Talk about it at TalkBack.

Topic: IBM

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7 comments
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  • Let's not forget...

    ... that IBM is a experienced unix vendor.

    I really don't think they would be nearly as "stressed" out by redhat being purchased as is being insinuated. The source code is out there and all... it's really a non-issue.

    I'm all for microsoft buying a linux distribution. I think it would provoke some interesting developments in the long run.
    Shadus
  • IBM already has an investment in Novell...

    ... and I don't think it's because they expect Novell to become so profitable that the value of their investment increases substantially.

    IBM may control Linux, but it may not be assured of controlling RedHat sufficiently. So they let the implied threat of SuSE hang over RedHat. If IBM pushed its entire clientele to SuSE, where would RedHat be?

    IBM, puppetmaster. Without ever having to take responsibility for Linux. Good work, but it'll last only until Linux supporters find the leash chaffing. Then anything is possible.
    Anton Philidor
  • Or

    IBM could drop some pocket lint (think $50 million) as seed money for a company distributing Blue Stetson Linux, which is byte-for-byte identical to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

    All those applications certified for RHEL will, absolute guarantee, run equally poorly on Blue Stetson (or White Box, or ...)

    Face it. Red Hat is a brand, not a software company in the sense that Microsoft understands. They can be [u]functionally[/u] replaced overnight. The reason nobody has tried is because Red Hat's brand is valuable, but that kind of value is very, [b]very[/b] fragile.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Re: Pushing IBM around

    I donot think anybody is pushing IBM around. I don't see how the flrtation of Microsoft with Red Hat amounts to the pusing of IBM. IBM used to be a leader. It has been a while since IBM stopped being a leader. Hence it would do nobody no good to push IBM. If anything IBM must use either Linux Operating Engine or Microsoft operating Engine for everything it creates like its servers.

    I believe if IBM wants to push Microsoft it can do so by siding with my system of changing the way web is served by changing the client server roles so that client is reduced to the role of communicating with the servers. Microsoft O?s may still be needed by its Internet Explorer would no longer be needed.

    http://www.hackers10.blogspot.com
    http://www.newerawisp.blogspot.com
    fakir005@...
  • Y'all may be right, but...

    It would be more than a little embarrassing, and cause more than a little upset at some thin-skinned enterprises, for IBM's Linux distro to be in the hands of its arch-rival.

    Obviously this doesn't bother most readers here. But how many of you are Fortune 500 CIOs?

    (No, really, how many? I'd love to talk with you. Call me.)
    DanaBlankenhorn
    • Leave it alone

      [quote from article]
      Open source gives IBM a measure of control in the
      operating systems arena with neither cost nor risk. IBM no
      longer has an operating system. Instead it has customers
      install Red Hat Linux.
      [/quote]

      What I can now longer get IBM's AIX? No just checked I
      can:-)

      As far as Linux, IBM supports both [url=http://
      www.novell.com/news/press/archive/2004/03/
      pr04030.html]SuSE[/url] and Red Hat. RHEL is not "IBM's
      Linux distro", I can't see how this can be claimed with a
      straight face. IBM is not dependent on Red Hat, nor would it
      be on MS if they were to by Red Hat.

      "Obviously this doesn't bother most readers here. But how
      many of you are Fortune 500 CIOs?"

      How many Fortune 500 CIOs would see Red Hat being
      bought by MS as a bad thing for Linux? Personally I like Red
      Hat's Linux, but there are plenty of alternatives for those
      that dislike MS, and those that like MS will now have a
      Linux distribution to use.

      The only loser here is MS, which is why I believe it won't
      happen.
      Richard Flude
    • I am -nt

      Why does my post have to have a body?
      emcee_z