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IBM: The Big Blue Support for the Linux Comunity

By Fernando Ribeiro Corrêa
Originally published at OLinux

OLinux: What is the group behind Linux at IBM (ibm open source site)? How are they divided and coordinated? Is there a central coordination for the project? Who is responsible for that?

IBM: Linux solutions touch the entire corporation -- hardware, software and services. IBM has established the Linux Technology Center as a focal point for its technical contributions to Linux. The center, which has a dedicated staff of engineers, manages the transfer of IBM technology to the open source community.

OLinux: How and when was Linux at IBM (the site) started? Was it a sort of top level and strategic decision or was it taken after clients/companies started asking for liunx solutions?

IBM: We began to see customer desire for Linux. IBM started to a formal Linux plan in 1998. We were begining to see customer desire and visionaries in some of our customer segments. viewing Linux as a wave of the future. Along with other open standards, such as HTTP, XML and TCP, we view Linux as playing a pivotal role in bringing interoperability to disparate server platforms and providing customers with an open, integrated e-business structure.

OLinux: How is the work coordinated and managed (servers, directories, contribution, staff payment)? How many people are involved world wide?

IBM: IBM's Linux strategy is to Linux enable all hardware, software and services. There are thousands of people working worldwide on this major initiative.

OLinux: How much has IBM invested ($) on research (labs, staff) and marketing it solutions?

IBM: Overall, IBM has invested millions of dollars in Linux. We will invest more than $200 million in a series of Linux initiatives in Europe and Asia Pacific over the next four years. These investments will include Linux development centers across Europe and Asia, alliances with Linux-focused business partners, along with the rapid deployment of about 600 specialized Linux consultants, hardware and software specialists, and services professionals. In the US, IBM has dedicated millions of dollars to help fund the Open Source Development Lab with Intel, NEC, HP and other Linux leaders

OLinux: From the start, IBM has contributed in many ways to chage conceptions on the computing world. How strategic was the decision to embrace Linux platform?

IBM: The decision was very strategic. For IBM, it's an inflection point that's associated with our focus on creating e-business solutions. We're helping companies build content solutions, commerce solutions, operations solutions--and Linux is a standard that we can use to help integrate all of these. It makes it much easier to move application components around. As a company, we're very sensitive to what it takes to achieve integration, because we're not just focused on selling this or that hardware platform. Linux will become the application development platform of choice for developers because of its multi-platform nature, and because it's not owned by any vendor. As a result of that, you can have vendors collaborating on standards.

OLinux: Was there any connection related to IBM's decision to suport Linux and the retirement of OS2 platform?

IBM: By embracing Linux, we are providing our customers with a choice of operating systems. The decision to embrace Linux is separate from OS2.

OLinux: What are the main research regarding software development projects going on? What´s the database program and programming tools and languages used (Perl, C)? How many developers work for IBM?

IBM: In the Software Group of IBM, we are currently working very hard to make sure all of our mission-critical software is able to support Linux. We have an expansive research and development team at IBM, with the actual number of developers in the thousands.

OLinux: Give us an idea of what Monterey Project represents for IBM?

IBM: The Project Monterey initiative was originally intended to enhance AIX with technologies from IBM's DYNIX/ptx (formerly of Sequent) and SCO's UnixWare operating systems, as well as to extend support for this enhanced AIX operating system to Intel's IA-64 bit architecture. AIX 5L, to be released later this year, demonstrates the success of the Project Monterey initiative, incorporating technology from the world's leading software and hardware providers, while maintaining the robustness of AIX.

AIX 5L -- the next generation of AIX -- takes AIX to the next level with leadership technology, a strong Linux affinity and added support for both IBM's Power and Intel's future IA-64 processor-based platforms, making it the most open UNIX in the industry. IBM, SCO/Caldera and Intel will continue to work together on AIX 5L for IA-64. We anticipate that future releases of AIX will continue to incorporate valuable technologies from IBM and the industry to satisfy requirements from many OEM system providers, independent hardware providers and independent software providers and deliver AIX 5L for IA-64 offerings and solutions.

OLinux: Tell us about IBM's Linux strategy. What are the main projects involving Linux? Are revenues already representative in terms of servers and desktops shipped with pre-installed?

IBM: IBM intends to make all of its server platforms Linux friendly, including S/390, AS/400, RS/6000 and Netfinity servers, and the work is already well underway. Netfinity servers are certified under the IBM ServerProven Program for Caldera, Red Hat, SuSE and TurboLinux distributions. In addition, selected models of IBM IntelliStations and ThinkPads are now Linux-enabled.

IBM has delivered all critical elements of its Application Framework for e-business on Linux, including DB2 Universal Database; WebSphere Application Servers, powered by the Apache HTTP engine; Domino; MQSeries; Developer Kit for Java; Tivoli system management tools; and VisualAge for Java. IBM is also working with its business partners to accelerate the development of applications for Linux. IBM offers a wide range of Linux consulting, design, implementation and technical support services, and a full curriculum of education, training, and certification programs. IBM consultants skilled in Linux are available worldwide to help customers develop, configure and enhance their Linux hardware and software solutions.

OLinux: What kind of custumers use IBM's services and software running Linux? Can you disclose some important companies using Linux? Any cases of study to reveal to us?

IBM: The University of New Mexico purchased 256 IBM Netfinity servers clustered with Red Hat Linux, creating the 24th fastest supercomputer. It is just about ready to go online. This new supercluster will increase the computing capabilities of the National Computational Science Alliance, a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded partnership, providing researchers with a platform for developing improved cluster management tools, gaining operational experience on large-scale clusters, and exploring the scalability of different types of science and engineering applications., The Weather Channel® Web site, is also using Linux with IBM technology and services to serve its massive volume of maps and images, in an effort to meet the site's extreme traffic demands. IBM solutions will also become part of the Internet infrastructure for

OLinux: Can you explain IBM strategy towards building alliances with Linux companies as Red Hat, Turbo Linux, Transmeta?

IBM: Our strategy to work with Linux distributors is driven by customer demand. Our customer base throughout the world has consistantly pointed to the distribution leaders and based on that feedback, we've established solid relationships with Red Hat, SuSE, TurboLinux and Caldera.

OLinux: IBM will ship its ThinkPads with Transmeta Crusoe chip. What this new technologies represent and how IBm plans to deploy it (the Crusoe chip)?

IBM: We continue to evaluate Transmeta as a possible processor technolog and we expect to finalize our decision soon.

OLinux: IBM supports Suse, Red Hat and turboLinux internationally. Why doesn't IBM support Debian GNU/Linux distribution which is regarded one of the easiest and most secure to work?

IBM: We base our decisions on customer demand. While Debian is well thought of, our customers have consistently expressed an interest in Red Hat, SuSE, TurboLinux and Caldera - and that's what we're giving them.

OLinux: Is Linux ready for mission critical operations? Will Linux ever substitute most of Unix in mission critical procesing? Are there any researches about Linux being deployed in such tasks like that?

IBM: Over time, Linux will become a viable enterprise UNIX system, capable of running more workloads requiring high scalability and industrial strength. We will work with the Linux community to help build such an enterprise Linux offering. This will take years, with the rate and pace being determined by the Linux community. Operating systems evolve slowly, and it is uncertain when Linux will have comprehensive enterprise capabilities.

OLinux: What about desktop users: are there any companies asking Linux for desktop apps?

IBM: Customers are always asking for more applications. We are working with the community to help create more applications for both the desktop and the enterprise.

OLinux: How important is the PartnerWorld and PartnerMarketing strategy for IBM's product selling?

IBM: Our partners thoughout the world are very important to our core product strategy. Through our partner programs, we're able to qualify and educate our partners - updating them on trends in the industry, technology advances, new product introductions - quickland easily. Building a solid foundation of key partners has been instrumental in propelling IBM to the forefront of our industry. We established PartnerWorld years ago as a means of centrally gathering our business partners on an annual basis - giving them an opportunity to hear firsthand new developments from IBM.

OLinux: How was Linux World recent event for the company? Can you describe the event on a business perspective? Can you disclose any results about new clients or companies willing to buy IBM's services?

IBM: The most recent LinuxWorld in San Jose, California was a huge success for IBM. We made a significant announcement with Red Hat which allows Red Hat to bundle and resell all of IBM's Linux-based software. This global alliance was incredibly well received. Also at the show, we announced our support for the newly found GNOME foundation and several open source announcements. Based on customer feedback, this show clearly places IBM at the forefront of the Linux movement. We have consistantly supported this new operating system and will continue to help move the technology forward.

OLinux: How does IBM sees KDE and GNOME? Do you think a merger would make better results? What relation does IBM have with GNOME? How importante is the GNOME foundation for IBM?

IBM: KDE and GNOME are innovative, rapidly maturing Linux desktops. Both KDE and GNOME have a large community backing their support. IBM is working with both KDE and GNOME to accelerate Linux on the desktop.

OLinux: In your opinion, how importante is the GNOME foundation to improve Linux usage on the PCs?

IBM: The GNOME Foundation is important to Linux on the desktop because it was formed to advance the GNOME desktop, the world's leading free and easy-to-use desktop environment for the user. GNOME has been designed to run on all modern strains of Unix-like operating systems. The support of leading vendors, including Sun Microsystems, IBM, Compaq, Eazel, CollabNet, Helix Code, Red Hat, demonstrates that the industry is coalescing behind GNOME as the esktop environment of the future. IBM has already released some technologies to GNOM including SashXB for Linux.

Copyright © 2000, Fernando Ribeiro Corrêa. Copying license
Published in Issue 59 of Linux Gazette, November 2000

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