IBM has reconfirmed its support for Linux and its plans to
embrace the open source movement behind the operating system, but
said it would keep its own middleware code under lock and key.
Speaking at the IBM Linux Summit at the Boeblingen
Development Laboratory in Stuttgart this week, IBM officials said
the company is considering using open source distribution for a
number of technologies, not all Linux-based.
Big Blue earlier this week announced it would support Linux in
its Thinkpad range of notebook computers and said it was planning
Linux support in its RS/6000 and AS/400 servers.
Mark Cathcart, a technology strategist with IBM, said that the
open source method of developing and distributing software would be
integral to the company's development plans. "And these strategies
could go off in a number of ways that are not Linux-based," he
Ross Mauri, vice president for Unix software at IBM, said: "IBM
views Linux as the key element for the future of ebusiness. Linux
is an open platform, and just like the internet, everyone has a
shot at enhancing the standards. And we believe that's a powerful
paradigm for improving ebusiness."
Mauri produced a range of impressive statistics to back up his
claims. He said Linux powered more than a third of the world's web
servers and 40 per cent of all Linux servers were used for
internet-related applications. He said that there were around nine
million Linux users at the end of 1999.
Adam Jollans, IBM's Linux marketing manager, said that Linux
could be scaled down to a relatively small size, even to fit Wap
phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). He said that this
would be essential in IBM's future development plans.
"If you look forward to the next stage, we'll be able to use
Linux on applications everywhere. Linux gives us portability,
flexibility and choice," said Jollans. Mauri confirmed that
possible development areas included scaled down Linux operating
systems for Wap and PDAs.
Nevertheless, Daniel Frye, program director for IBM's Linux
technology centre, said that certain areas of IBM's development
programme would remain protected. "Open source is not applicable
for all areas. Most of our middleware is not at risk from open
source. We don't see any business reason to give the code away
because we would provide distinct business advantages for some of
our rivals," said Frye.
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