IBM Pledges One Billion Dollars to Support Linux on its Power Servers
Historically IBM Power servers have run their own version of Unix, but sales have been contracting as more data centers transition toward Linux. IBM is no stranger to Linux, which it adapted for use on its mainframe products in the past. The company has previously made a Billion dollar investment in Linux during 2000, but now IBM has announced plans to spend another billion over the next four years adapting Linux and other open-source systems for their Power line of servers.
IBM Power servers have long held a reputation for being especially good with heavy-duty computing tasks, such as running large databases, but as more tech business becomes focused on web-based applications, sales of the Unix machines don’t seem to offer the growth opportunities that Linux based equipment is projected to provide. Many of the largest web companies, like Google, are now operating almost exclusively on Linux based machines. Most of the servers on the market are x86 machines, while IBM’s Power servers run a proprietary Power chipset, making it necessary for IBM to fund this investment as a way to develop and optimize open-source Linux software for their proprietary hardware.
“We continue to take share in Unix, but it’s just not growing as fast as Linux,” says Brad McCredie, an IBM vice president of Power development. Linux helped to popularize the open-source model, which allows users to get under the hood and modify the underlying instructions that create a program, allowing for the ultimate in customization and spurring quite a bit of innovation. That the base software is generally available for free is a big draw as well, particularly for those companies that buy servers by the thousands each time.
IBM is going to spend this billion dollars on facilities and personnel to help Power users make the move to Linux. They are also planning to create what company officials describe as a “Development Cloud,” which will be comprised of a large Power server farm operated by IBM that allows customers to use it remotely for building and testing new applications.
Though Linux is most often associated with servers, Linux also underlies the Android operating system, which has become by far the most popular operating system for the smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices that are quickly overtaking traditional computers in the consumer marketplace. IBM formally announced this investment in Linux at LinuxCon, an annual conference for developers and media held this week in New Orleans.
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