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VNU Net: Users prompt Big Blue to back Linux

May 19, 2000, 14:31 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Peter Branton)

By Peter Branton, VNU Net

User demand has led IBM to increase its commitment to the Linux freeware operating system by offering full support on the S/390 mainframe platform.

IBM said it was responding to customers' needs, as more than 2000 copies of Linux for S/390 have been downloaded since it was offered in January.

Specialist resellers will distribute Linux for S/390 in the UK, in partnership with IBM Global Services, which will offer users services and support for the platform. Pricing will cover distribution and support costs. Free downloads will still be available, IBM said.

IBM is hoping to capture a larger share of the market for web servers, with the S/390 offering an ideal platform for server consolidation, said Clive Druett, ebusiness consultant for enterprise systems for IBM. "We want all those users who have started running free servers such as Apache to come back to the mainframe," he said.

"IBM users have voted with their feet for Linux on S/390," said Phil Payne, analyst for Isham Research. "Over 2000 downloads is far more than IBM expected. The main benefit for IBM, though, will probably be to get more people with S/390 skills in the marketplace."

"The intention is to grow the S/390 skills base," said Druett. "We want more people familiar with the platform." As part of this, IBM is offering to provide some colleges in the US with mainframe systems, he added.

Linux for S/390 will be more secure than other Linux implementations, said Druett, but it will run directly on the S/390 hardware platform, rather than the OS/390 operating system itself, which he acknowledged would make it less robust. "We can't offer the same levels of availability we do with OS/390," he said.

Third party software suppliers, including BMC and Software AG, have already made applications available for Linux on S/390.

Mark Lilleycrop, director of research for Xephon, is sceptical. "This seems to be a bit of a 'me-too' product," he said. "IBM had to be in the Linux space, and it may be looking at areas like server consolidation, but I really can't see a huge market for Linux in this space," he said.

[ First published in Computing ]

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