"At the same time, though, we’re also focusing Linux on a brand new market of people who might not know anything about AIX," said Scott Handy, IBM’s director for Linux solutions marketing, during a technical session at this week’s Solutions 2000 developers’ conference in Las Vegas.
IBM’s multifaceted moves to Linux go a long way toward opening up the company’s commercial code base. This is a far cry from the IBM of old, which once teamed up with Hewlett-Packard and Digital Equipment Corp. to create the Open Software Foundation (OSF), whose sole purpose was to splinter Unix and protect its members’ respective proprietary OSes.
Keen interest in Linux stretches from small ISPs and mom-and-pop development shops to corporate IT departments, according to Handy. "The action in autonomous departments [is] bottoms-up. CIOs have discovered they already have Linux."
Within the established Linux community, Linux is having its strongest impact in server-based applications like Web servers, networking, e-mail/messaging, database and file/print, say statistics from International Data Corp. IBM’s projections for the next 12 months don’t vary much.
IBM has much grander visions for the OS, however. The company sees it as a "pervasive" computing environment, able to run in just about any hardware or software environment. IBM has already started running Linux on S/390 mainframe, Netfinity and RS/6000 servers, in addition to ThinkPad, Intellistation and NetVista clients. A port is under way for AS/400 midrange servers.
Now, under the upcoming AIX 5L, IBM will integrate AIX with Linux to create a common operating environment with shared systems management, along with high-end technologies that were supposed to be included in Project Monterey.
In 5L, IBM is building "strong affinity with Linux," combining Linux source-code compatibility, a Linux build-time, and an AIX enterprise environment for running Linux applications, said Miles Barel, IBM’s program director for Unix marketing, also at the conference in Las Vegas.
Advantages of the Linux/AIX integration will include "using your existing servers, applications, data, skills and business processes with little to no change as technology advances," according to Barel.
Nevertheless, it will take some time to get the same kind of performance out of Linux that IBM currently gets from AIX. One of the biggest problems is scalability.
"Right now, we’re lucky if we can get Linux to support two- or four-way SMP," said Handy. "Meanwhile, AIX is kicking butt on 32-way SMP."
Noted Barel: "With AIX 5L, Project Monterey effectively goes away." IBM previously teamed with SCO on Project Monterey. Recently, however, Linux distributor Caldera announced its intentions to acquire SCO’s Server Software and Professional Services divisions.
Under a road map handed out this week during Solutions 2000, version 5.0 of AIX 5L will provide a 64-bit kernel and device drivers; Java 2 version 1.3 in base; an enhanced JF32 file system; SVR4 technologies; and improvements to TCP/IP and the Workload Manager.
Barel maintained that AIX 5L will be the first OS to incorporate Java 2 version 1.3, ahead of Sun’s own Solaris.
Other sources at IBM said the enhancements to Workload Manager will include the ability to manage disk I/O.
The next release of AIX 5L, 5.1, will add the Linux operating environment (LOE); a multiserver Web-based system manager; NUMA system enabling and tuning; RS6K Power4 enabling with LPAR; and SecureWay LDAP 3.2 with Kerberos5, also under IBM’s road map.
Further down the line, AIX 5L version 5.2 will include NUMA and SMP performance tuning; dynamic partitioning support; NUMA and SMP performance tuning; and systems management and RAS enhancements.
IBM has targeted the fourth quarter of this year for release of the final version of AIX 5L version 5.0; spring of 2001 for AIX 5L version 5.1; and the first half of 2002 for version 5.2. The final version of 5.0 is slated to run in both Power and IA-64 environments. For the third quarter of this year, IBM is planning an early adopter’s release of 5.0 on Power, plus a developer’s release on IA-64, according to Barel.