IBM chief says Linux OS ready for mission-critical apps

InfoWorld |  Operating Systems

IBM APPEARS HELL-BENT on making 2001 the year it establishes Linux as a major e-business platform enterprise and is poised to put its money, technology, and marketing muscle behind it.

In his keynote address that opened LinuxWorld Expo on Wednesday, IBM President and CEO Sam Palmisano said the open-source operating system is ready to leap the chasm between merely being "a nice modular technology" for smaller business systems to being an integral platform for conducting "real e-business."

"We see Linux as ready for real e-business, mission-critical applications because of its rapid global adoption, its inherent enablement for multiple platforms, and [because] it is now and will continue to be the fastest-growing operating system in the world," Palmisano said.

Palmisano quoted recent market share numbers from IDC that showed Linux having captured 28 percent unit share of the overall server market in 2000. He said he expects that figure to jump to 38 percent by 2004.

To help ensure that Linux is even more readily adopted by large corporate accounts, IBM will dedicate $300 million of the $1 billion it has earmarked for Linux this year towards services and support over the next three years. Many of those services will be designed to help large accounts develop and integrate Linux and compatible applications into their existing host-based environments.

"It is as simple as this: people out there need to [decide] whether they are going to vote for Linux and open-source technologies or not. IBM has voted to back open-source technologies. We are putting a lot of our prosperity at stake with this [$1 billion] investment," Palmisano said.

Despite its investment and its other considerable economic and technological resources, Palmisano admits that IBM cannot ultimately establish Linux as a premier e-business platform by itself. The company will continue to work even more aggressively with the Linux community at large to accomplish that goal.

"IBM invests $5 billion a year in research, but we can't solve this problem ourselves. By working together we can entrench Linux as a serious e-business platform," Palmisano said.

One by one, Palmisano tried to explode what he believes are the four myths of Linux: that it has little scalability, that it is only a niche operating system, that it cannot be used for mission-critical applications, and that it is a chaotic "bathtub of code" from which anyone can create without adhering to standards.

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