This LinuxWorld will have a Big Blue tinge

IBM is set to roll out a range of products and services as the LinuxWorld show opens in New York. On the docket: A 64-processor IBM server that runs Linux applications unchanged.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on
NEW YORK--Continuing to toot its Linux horn, IBM started the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo Wednesday morning with a slew of hardware and software announcements supporting the open-source operating system.

IBM (ibm) President Sam Palmisano IBM said it plans to spend more than $300 million, or one-third of the company's $1 billion Linux commitment--on Linux services. IBM CEO Lou Gerstner had announced IBM's $1 billion Linux commitment late last year.

The $300 million earmarked by IBM specifically for services will be spent on building up over the next three years, "e-business enablement and migration," open source consulting; and web and high-availability cluster services.

As part of its services build up, IBM said it will broaden its services relationships with SuSE, one of the four major Linux distributors. IBM already has service agreements in place with Red Hat and LinuxCare, which is in the process of merging with TurboLinux.

Palmisano took some thinly veiled potshots at rivals Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, neither of which has been much of a Linux or open source backer.

"Change--some are excited about it. Some are really threatened about it," Palmisano told the LinuxWorld Expo audience. "This (Linux) is certainly a disruptive technology we'll be working with for many, many years to come."

Palmisano emphasized that IBM is banking on Linux being ready for "real business." He said the year 2001 will be "the year Linux grows up in the enterprise."

Palmisano spent much of his keynote address attempting to debunk what he called the "four myths of Linux." These are, according to Palmisano, that Linux can't scale; that Linux is only a niche play; that Linux isn't ready to handle mission-critical demands; and that "Linux is a bathtub" of source code with little rhyme or reason behind it. To refute these myths, Palmisano cited a number of recent IBM Linux customer wins.

"We don't invest a billion dollars casually," Palmisano told the audience. "Lou (Gerstner) and I don't write those checks without some engaging scrutiny," he quipped.

Palmisano closed by addressing the Linux audience directly: "You are the community that will get this done," he said. "But we need to work together."

During the past year, all of IBM's hardware, software and services divisions have made Linux a top priority. IBM has announced plans to translate all of its application and infrastructure software to Linux and has made Linux one of the operating systems available on most IBM hardware, ranging from its NetVista thin clients to its S/390 mainframes.

IBM also has made available to the open-source community a number of IBM technologies, such as its Journaling File System (JFS). And not a week goes by without IBM announcing a new Linux initiative, customer win or related product.

During the show, IBM executives are expected to highlight the message that "Linux really is moving from the early adopter phase into mainstream computing," said Deepak Advani, vice president of the company's Linux strategy.

To prove its contention, IBM will reveal plans for the 64-processor eServer x430, which IBM is touting as the first server to run middleware called the Linux Application Environment (LAE). LAE sits on top of the Dynix Unix-like operating system, which powers the IBM server.

Linux testing center
IBM has opened a Linux Competency Center in Beaverton, Ore., where Linux software writers can test their applications on LAE.

The LAE layer is designed to allow existing 32-bit Intel-based Linux applications to run without being recompiled on the new 64-processor servers. To take full advantage of the 64-processor functionality, however, customers will need to redesign their applications or write new ones from scratch, IBM executives acknowledged.

Also on tap at LinuxWorld, IBM will unveil plans to ship this summer IA-64-based Intellistation Z Pro workstations that will run one or more Linux flavors.

"This workstation will serve the markets where Linux is really taking hold," Advani said.

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