IBM is making a fresh billion-dollar investment in Linux.
IBM Fellow (and vice president) Bradley McCredie took the stage at this year’s LinuxCon North America to talk Linux, the cloud, and how the combination of data analytics and mobile devices are transforming the ways people build applications and deliver services to end-users.
IBM made a previous $1 billion investment in Linux over thirteen years ago, during the operating systems’ nascent period, with the goal of promoting open-source software capable of handling all the data that sloshes through the world’s datacenters on a daily basis. The majority of IBM systems now support Linux; the company has also invested in building a Linux development cloud.
But IBM’s reasons for promoting Linux are also much more specific. “This year Linux surpassed the Unix market. Unix is relatively flat,” the Linux Foundation live-Tweeted from IBM’s presentation. “There’s [also] a technical need. Most of the Linux x86 market is serviced by commodity hardware that’s not designed to be server-quality.” But IBM has server-targeted designs that can serve that need: “As big data explodes, the power system hardware on the Linux software stack will make things happen.”
Applications built on the Linux/Apache stack on PowerLinux include Datameer, SuperCRM, and others.
Linux is certainly the operating system preferred by many datacenters, where IBM is competing fiercely against the likes of hardware-and-services giants such as Hewlett-Packard; by investing heavily in Linux (and tying the platform tightly to hardware offerings such as Power), Big Blue evidently hopes to sway the world’s IT administrators, developers, and code experts to its side in that fight. A Linux development cloud also helps achieve this end, by giving developers a place to test out new software applications before they hit the broader market.
But where exactly will this new $1 billion go? That remains to be seen, although it’ll likely end up supporting research at the intersection of Linux and hardware, particularly Power. The big question is when—and how—the initiatives funded with that money could spread to the Linux community at large.