IBM Invests $100 Million in Linux

IBM has announced that it is investing $100 million over the next three years to expand Linux support and technology across its Workplace software portfolio. The announcement comes as a result of high double-digit growth in 2004 in the number of customers deploying IBM collaboration software on Linux, according to company officials.

Although research and scientific organizations are currently leading other organizations in adopting Linux, "Linux is beginning to penetrate the 'business' arena," notes Robert Rosen, president of SHARE Inc., IBM's biggest user group, with 20,000 members. SHARE serves as a sounding board for IBM's ideas and provides feedback to IBM about its products. "We tell them what is good, what is bad, and we offer suggestions to improve their offerings," Rosen explains.

"IBM provides key technology to enterprises so if enterprises want Linux, IBM will develop the required expertise and products to provide it to them," Rosen adds.

The planned investment in IBM collaboration and productivity products will provide additional choices of server-managed capabilities for Linux customers. "I think IBM sees enterprises expressing an interest in Linux and thus moved it to the forefront of their products," Rosen says. "I believe one of the reasons they see enterprises moving to Linux is because enterprises belonging to SHARE have been expressing interest and sharing their experiences in Linux at SHARE meetings."

IBM Workplace Services Express provides integrated, out-of-the-box collaborative capabilities for small and medium businesses and already ships with Linux support. IBM Workplace Collaboration Services will ship with Linux support when it becomes available. Workplace Collaboration Services includes a disconnected, rich client enabled by IBM Workplace Client Technology. Linux support for it is scheduled for next quarter.

"In my opinion, I believe that IBM's goals are to provide systems based on Linux that provide the industrial-strength computing environment that IBM customers demand for critical business and scientific systems. That means both hardware and software development will be done to meet that requirement," Rosen points out.

When asked how IBM's investment in Linux will impact application development, Rosen responded, "Smart application developers will be developing software using tools that enable their products to run on a variety of systems ranging from proprietary to open systems. More importantly, they will have to expand their knowledge base to ensure they understand the limitations that might exist in any of these operating systems."

In addition to Linux support in its Workplace software and Workplace Client Technology, IBM supports Linux in IBM Lotus Domino and IBM WebSphere Portal.

About the Author

Lana Gates is a freelance writer based in Mesa, Arizona. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]