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LinuxWorld Expo: Big Blue Eats Its Own Linux

Aug 15, 2002, 14:30 (18 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Singer)

By Michael Singer

In a sign that the company is--completely, 100 percent, no questions asked--behind Linux as an enterprise-ready technology, IBM said Wednesday it has moved some of its key applications to the open source operating system.

The changes impact some of core functions at the Armonk, N.Y.-based company including the application that monitors server performance for its worldwide Lotus Notes e-mail system. That's the one that supports some 300,000 IBM employees around the globe.

The company said it is also using Linux for its manufacturing equipment control for a $2.5 billion next generation 300mm semiconductor technology manufacturing line in East Fishkill, N.Y., anti-virus protection for over 1 Terabyte of e-mail every month, and community collaboration forums for IBM's internal Web portal with over 17 million hits per day.

"IBM is building its business on Linux. It is not a coincidence that Linux is playing a part in virtually every aspect of IBM's infrastructure at the same time that our customers are adopting Linux at unprecedented rates," said IBM vice president of Business Transformation and CIO Phil Thompson. "Linux makes good business sense for our customers because of its low cost, extreme stability and flexibility. It makes good business sense for IBM for those same reasons."

The shift is a part of IBM's Global Services initiative. Big Blue estimates putting Linux on IBM eServer systems will help the company save more than $10 million per year within its worldwide infrastructure with four times the throughput as its previous system.

"Moving the Lotus Notes Management system from Windows NT to Linux has allowed IBM to use 75 percent fewer monitoring servers for the same workload and to reuse previously deployed IBM eServer xSeries servers," said Thompson.

The proof that Linux is even ready for prime time, according to IBM lies is in the number of major corporations that are coming to the open source table.

"This is the fourth time IBM has had a keynote at LinuxWorld and I can tell you when we started, that we were pretty much alone on stage," said Doug Elix, Senior VP and Group Executive, IBM Global Services. "Today we have to share the stage with tree huggers and self-proclaimed Linux supporters."

During Wednesday's keynote, Elix said IBM naturally farms a Linux culture because it is cost effective, it attracts the next generation of programmers and it has the potential to be the operating system of choice for the next generation, not only for servers and the desktop, but for Grid Computing as well.

"Trust me, If management doesn't get it, the staff will," Elix said.

For example, using IBM systems, the University of Pennsylvania's Grid and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are working on a national digital mammography archive. And earlier this year, game player Grid Butterfly.net said it has switched to IBM-based Linux-based servers to run its complex infrastructure.

Elix said his hope for the Linux community going forward is to embrace open standards and open markets; make it so the IT staff spends more on the enterprise; manage more complexity and build resiliency; and treat Internet technology the same as other commodities like water, gas and electricity.

Fortunately, Elix said IBM is holding an olive branch to other players he says may be stuck in their proprietary ways.

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