IBM updates Unix, Linux strategies

IBM plans moves to maintain its position in the Unix world.

IBM will use Monday's announcement of two new RS/6000 servers targeted at service providers to provide an update on its Unix and Linux strategies.

At its simultaneous London-New York-San Francisco launches, IBM will provide specifics on its "Project Sun Screen" server-software initiatives that are aimed squarely at IBM Unix archrival Sun Microsystems, sources say. IBM officials declined to comment on the upcoming announcements.

On 13 September, IBM is expected to roll out its AIX 4.3.3 release, say sources close to the company. The 4.3.3 release is the first that IBM will claim includes some functionality from the forthcoming Monterey 64 operating system. AIX 4.3.3 will include the AIX Workload Manager, a utility for systems administrators that will let them allocate resources to specific workloads, based on business priorities. The utility also will enable users to consolidate multiple workloads onto a single RS/6000 server.

While it will emphasise that AIX is not going away, IBM is expected to play up Monterey 64, the AIX-based platform that is being developed by IBM, The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) and Sequent Computer. Both Monterey 64 and AIX are in the midst of being ported to Merced, Intel's IA-64 processor due out in the second half of 2000. The Monterey Project participants have said they expect to deliver Monterey 64 by the third quarter of next year.

IBM plans to make both AIX and Monterey 64 Linux-compatible, as company officials have promised. It will do this through a so-called "Linux Application Execution Environment" -- a collection of application programming interfaces and application binary interfaces that IBM is expected to release as open source -- according to sources close to the company. IBM isn't the only vendor to attempt to provide Unix-Linux interoperability. SCO has said it is working to make UnixWare Linux-interoperable, and Sun has said the same about its intentions regarding Solaris on Intel. Both SCO and Sun have said they plan to provide this capability via an open-source translation layer called lxrun.

IBM's Linux compatibility announcement will cap a number of Linux-related moves the company has made of late, including the porting of core applications and middleware, including Tivoli and Domino, to Linux; and the provision of Linux service and support through IBM Global Services.

Additional reporting by Jason Perlow.