IBM Makes Smart Linux Move with Chiphopper

IBM again showed that it is nothing if not savvy when it comes to Linux with its recent Linuxworld announcement of Chiphopper. The program, also called the IBM eServer Application Server Advantage for Linux, is a package of support and testing tools to help ISVs port x86 Linux applications to IBM architecture.

IBM made the announcement in collaboration with Linux business partners Novell and Red Hat at Linuxworld in February.

Research director Rob Kidd of The Sagueza Group called the initiative "a no-brainer" for developers to take part in. "This is well-positioned by IBM," Kidd said. "The developer, with fairly little effort, gets a whole [new] market."

In particular, he said, ISVs with mainframe packages or applications running on the Sun Solaris platform should be interested. "If I'm a Sun Solaris developer and I understand that my customer base is declining...I need to be hedging my bet."

The Chiphopper package, named for its ability to allow applications to hop across various chips, is a free offering, available immediately worldwide. It provides tools and support to help ISVs take existing Linux applications on Intel (or AMD) platforms, and test, port, and support them across all IBM systems. That includes the iSeries, zSeries, xSeries, and IBM's OpenPower line of Linux-based servers.

For ISVs who choose to participate, Chiphopper includes benefits such as access to a source code testing tool that examines the application for portability, along with expert advice from IBM, a certification program, and access to IBM testing centers worldwide running platforms such as the zSeries mainframe. Chiphopper will support applications written either directly to the operating system, and those written to middleware.

The initiative is well planned, Kidd said, because it offers benefits to two key groups: customers, who may be running heterogeneous environments and therefore welcome an application that works across platforms; and developers and ISVs, who naturally want to offer their applications on as many platforms as possible.

Combined with other IBM moves in the marketplace, Kidd said, such as opening a large body of patents to open source, Chiphopper contributes to a certain momentum from IBM. "The nice thing about IBM," he says, "is that...they've successfully managed to figure out how to implement an effective strategy in the Linux environment."

With Chiphopper, Kidd says, IBM is "taking potshots at everybody in the market [running] Linux on Intel. They're taking a direct shot at Sun, and a direct shot at Microsoft."

About the Author

Linda Briggs is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Calif. She can be reached at [email protected].