IBM on Tuesday kicked off an initiative aimed at convincing big businesses and data centres that Linux is not just a way of saving money — and that it's also a good way to cut back on power consumption and environmental damage.
The "Big Green Linux" initiative is part of the wider Project Big Green, launched in May, which is specifically aimed at helping IBM and its clients reduce data-centre energy consumption. IBM kicked off the new initiative at the opening of the LinuxWorld and Next Generation Data Center trade shows in San Francisco, accompanied by Novell and the Linux Foundation.
The initiative doesn't centre on any one product announcement, but instead highlights several new IBM systems and projects aimed at Linux-based energy efficiency.
Inna Kuznetsova, IBM's global executive for Linux, said the company's efforts at selling Linux as a data centre-consolidation platform, with high-end systems such as the System z and System p platforms, have already begun to pay off: about 30 percent of the company's Linux-server revenue now comes from non-x86 systems, she said. Linux has traditionally been associated with lower-end x86 systems.
IBM said last week it would take its own advice, with a plan to consolidate about 3,900 of its own servers onto about 30 System z Linux mainframes, cutting energy consumption by about 80 percent in the process.
The company says it has more than eight million square feet of data-centre space, supporting more than 350,000 users, and, over the past 10 years, it has consolidated 155 data-centre operations worldwide down to seven.
On Tuesday, IBM said it had signed up two major new clients to consolidate on the Power processor-based System p platform — car maker Volkswagen and Telefónica Móviles España, the Spanish telecoms company. Nearly 700 companies have migrated from competing Unix platforms to System p running Linux or AIX — IBM's Unix — in the past year and a half, IBM said.
For data-integration projects, IBM has introduced the Linux-based Information Server Blade, which it called the industry's first "data virtualisation" offering. The blades offer an enterprise-wide view of information and scale to handle large volumes of data, the company said.
On the software side, IBM highlighted recent contributions it has made to the Linux kernel specifically aimed at data-centre efficiency. The features help with scaling CPU clock speed and voltage and keeping idle processors in a low-power "tickless" state longer, IBM said.
IBM is also collaborating with Novell in a deal announced on Tuesday to sell and support IBM's open source-based WebSphere Application Server Community Edition (WAS CE) as part of Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server. IBM argued the deal will help enterprises and SMEs integrate open source, opening up new possibilities for energy efficiency.
As of Tuesday, IBM said it has distributed one million copies of WAS, which is based on the open-source Apache Geronimo application server.
To kick off their collaboration, IBM and Novell have announced groupware client software integrating email, instant messaging and office-productivity tools for Linux desktops. The software is based on the Eclipse framework and powered by Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop, and includes IBM email and productivity software.
IBM also announced IBM Implementation Services for Linux — high-availability clusters designed to consolidate distributed servers onto Linux.
A computer cluster is a group of tightly connected computers working closely together to act as a single powerful system. Clusters are seen as an alternative to mainframes for many applications, and are attractive on price because they can be built from individual low-cost commodity systems.