LinuxWorld showcases what's ahead for the OS

By Peter Galli

February 1, 2001

NEW YORK -- The recurrent theme at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here this week is that the open-source operating system has come of age in the enterprise.

Sam Palmisano, IBM's president and chief operating officer, said in a keynote address Wednesday that Linux had become a "disruptive" technology that will continue to power its way into the enterprise.

"Linux has become a real, robust business system, and it is making rapid strides in that regard," Palmisano said. "This is going to be the year that Linux grows up and matures in the enterprise. The $1 billion we have committed to Linux this year is nothing in comparison to the value the thousands of developers bring to the open-source operating system."

William Swope, vice president of Intel Corp.'s Architecture Group, will reiterate that message in his keynote address Thursday morning, stressing the need to use the current momentum in the industry to increase Linux deployments.

"Linux has come of age, which is evidenced by the number of enterprise-level clients adopting the technology," Swope told eWEEK in an interview ahead of his keynote. "It has done well in a number of application areas and has the ability to do well in a number of others. We at Intel are focusing on the next level of complexity -- how to offer corporate IT a complete system as Linux moves from the front end to the mid-tier and the application services level."

IBM's Palmisano also used his keynote to announce that IBM would, over the next three years, commit $300 million to additional services designed to help customers install and implement commercial e-business solutions using Linux. "Customers need services and support to run any mission-critical application, and this investment will be used to fund that," he said.

A key theme of Palmisano's address was the need for open industry standards and an active open-source environment and community.

"IBM, with all its resources, does not believe that any one company can solve all problems alone," he said. "Open industry standards and working closely with various partners is the way to go. Standards have to evolve so the community can come together, and e-business will become the reality we all want it to be."

Torvalds applauds Big Blue

Linus Torvalds, the "father" of Linux, agreed that no single company would dominate or take over the Linux space.

"Five years ago I would have worried that a single company like IBM might want -- and be able -- to dominate Linux," Torvalds told eWEEK. "But we are now long past that point. The pervasive spirit of openness and the licensing restrictions will ensure this. The $1 billion IBM is putting behind its Linux platform is really, in the big picture, not that much."

He also welcomed the $300 million investment by Big Blue in Linux support and services, saying IBM stood out for its commitment to providing support and service for its clients.

Asked to comment on the huge growth in the operating system, Torvalds said it was "great to see how Linux has opened doors for so many people in so many places of the world. People anywhere can take the operating system and customize it to their particular needs. That is very exciting to me."

IBM also announced Wednesday that it would broaden its services relationship with Linux vendor SuSE across a variety of platforms, including IBM's eServers. Under the agreement, IBM Global Services will use SuSE to help address customers' technical concerns, like source-code problems, a SuSE spokeswoman said.

IBM also announced plans for the IBM eServer x430, a 64-way server designed to bridge the gap between smaller Intel-based platforms and the mainframe. It will run middleware known as the Linux Application Environment. To further support the LAE, IBM has opened a Linux Competency Center in Beaverton, Ore., that will enable ISVs to test applications running on the LAE.


Copyright (c) 2001 ZD Inc. All Rights Reserved.