Continuing my week in Chicago, at the IBM System x and BladeCenter Technical Conference, I attended an awesome session that summarized IBM's Linux directions. Pat Byers presented the global forces that are forcing customers to re-evaluate the TCO of their operating system choices, the need for rapid integration in an ever-changing business climate, government stimulus packages, and technology that has enabled much better solutions than we had during the last economic turn-down in 2001-2003.
IBM has been committed to Linux for over 10 years now. I was part of the initial IBM team in the 1990s to work on Linux for the mainframe. In various roles, I helped get Linux attachment tested for disk and tape systems, and helped get Linux selected as an operating system platform of choice for our storage management software. Today, Linux-based server generate $7 Billion US dollars in revenues. For UNIX customers, Linux provides greater flexibility for hardware platform. For Windows customers, Linux provides better security and reliability.
Initially, Linux was used for simple infrastructure applications, edge-of-the-network and Web-based workloads. This evolved to Application and Data serving, Enterprise applications like ERP, CRM and SCM. Today, Linux is well positioned to help IBM make our world a smarter planet, able to handle business-critical applications. It is the only operating system to scale to the full capability of the biggest IBM System x3950M2 server.
Pat gave an examples of IBM's work with Linux helping clients.
IBM's strategy has been to focus on working with two of the major Linux distributors: Red Hat and Novell. It also works with [Asianux] which is like the UnitedLinux for Asia, internationalized for Japan, Korea, and China. It handles special requests for other distributions, from CentOS to Ubuntu, as needed on a case by case basis. IBM's Linux Technology Center of 600 employees help to enable IBM products for Linux, make Linux a better operating system, expand Linux's reach, and help drive collaboration and innovation. In fact, IBM is the #3 corporate contributor to the open source Linux kernel, behind Red Hat (#1) and Novell (#2). For most IBM products, IBM tests with Linux as rigorously as it does Microsoft Windows. IBM offers complete RTS/ServicePac and SupportLine service and support contracts for Red Hat and Novell Linux.
At the IBM Solutions Center this week, several booths used Linux bootable USB sticks to run their software. [Novell SUSE Studio] was developed to help customize Linux to the specific needs for independent vendors.
Both Red Hat and Novell offer distributions in four categories:
A key difference between Red Hat and Novell appears to be on their strategy towards server virtualization. Red Hat wants to position itself as the hypervisor of choice, for both servers and desk top virtualization, announcing Kernel-based Virtual Machine [KVM] on their Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.4 release, and their new upcoming RHEV-V, a tight 128MB hypervisor to compete against VMware ESXi. Meanwhile, Novell is focusing SUSE to be the perfect virtual guest OS, being hypervisor-aware an dhaving consistent terms and licensing when run under any hypervisor, including VMware, Hyper-V, Citrix Xen, KVM or others.
IBM has tons of solutions that are based on Linux, including the IBM Information Server blade, the InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse, SAN Volume Controller (SVC), TS7650 ProtecTIER data deduplication virtual tape library, Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS), Scale-out File Services (SoFS), Lotus Foundations, and the IBM Smart Cube.
If you are interested in trying out Linux, IBM offers evaluation copies at no charge for 30 to 90 days. For more on how to deploy Linux successfully on IBM servers, see the [IBM Linux Blueprints] landing page.
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