IBM rolls out unified Linux strategy

Turns multiple initiatives into company-wide embrace

IBM is increasing its bet on Linux by adopting software's counter-culture as a primary operating system for the Internet. This turns a series of initiatives within IBM into a strategic, company-wide embrace. The reason appears to be to make IBM big iron more attractive for running networks, and to provide some tougher competition for Sun. IBM has Linux for the RS/6000 and S/390, as well as Netfinity, and is evaluating whether its NUMA-Q servers will run Linux. Despite IBM's avowed seriousness about supporting NT, few thought that this was more than a commercial decision to give customers what they wanted, rather than an expression of IBM's whole-hearted admiration for Windows. In making the announcement, Sam Palmisano, senior VP of IBM's enterprise group, made it clear that IBM intends to work closely with the Linux community as well as to make its own technology available to the Linux and open software communities, stressing it is not confining its efforts to Linux, but to open source software generally. The collaborations with Caldera, Red Hat, SuSE and TurboLinux will continue. To this end, Irving Wladawsky-Berger is heading a new IBM unit within the enterprise group. IBM says it is not abandoning its AIX efforts or Project Monterey, but believes that the markets are different. IBM hastens to point out that although Linux is open and free, "open source does not mean free. IBM will continue to deliver its value-added middleware as priced packages." ®

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