Big guns take Linux higher

IBM Corp., Novell Inc., and Sun Microsystems Inc. bolstered Linux's enterprise appeal last week by detailing present and future products at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in New York.

Hoping to accelerate acceptance for grid computing among commercial users, IBM is developing a grid-enabled version of WebSphere, code-named Cayuga. According to sources familiar with the company's plans, Cayuga is designed to make it easier to implement and manage grids.

The sources also stated that Big Blue will eventually implement Cayuga's core into other middleware products, including Tivoli and DB2.

IBM also redoubled its commitment to plant Linux more deeply on its Power processor-based servers -- the pSeries and iSeries -- and has expanded its offerings to include some 300 Linux-ready applications capable of working on both the pSeries and iSeries.

IBM also said it will migrate its server-based middleware applications to the Power-based architecture. Company officials believe the melding of 64-bit hardware and v2.6 Linux will make Linux a credible alternative to Unix.

"We think we can take the value proposition of Linux and move it over to Power," Jim Stallings, general manager of Linux at IBM, said at a LinuxWorld news conference.

Some of IBM's customers are buying into the company's line of thinking.

"IBM offering Linux on Power could turn out to be the best of both worlds in terms of gaining the reliability of the pSeries and also having the option to run AIX 5L or Linux, depending on what application we need," said Frederick Holston, director of IT architecture at Intermountain Health Care.

With the Power 5 chip due to ship by midyear and the proliferation of Power-based blade servers pushing added power down to departments, the fortunes for Linux on Power-based systems can only get better, Stallings said.

As new kid on the Linux block, Novell rolled out a beta of GroupWise 6.5 for Linux. Company officials said the finished version should be available in the first half of this year. The messaging product features native support for the company's Ximian Evolution workgroup information management application.

In a move that heralds the company's increased commitment to open source development, Novell also joined the Eclipse consortium. In doing so, the company will be able to offer developers a common tooling strategy by providing a more unified environment for building, testing, and debugging solutions.

"As we have moved our Linux strategy forward -- enhancing our secure identity management and Web services products -- the missing component has been a unified development environment that allows us and partners to work across all Novell technologies," Novell Vice Chairman Chris Stone said during a press briefing at LinuxWorld.

Sun Microsystems showed off a forthcoming version of its Java Desktop System, which allows for better control over the desktop; Linux on its Sun Ray client system; and a three-dimensional interface, code-named Project Looking Glass.

The company also gave attendees a peek at a future desktop solution for developers. The offering will meld Sun's Java Studio Creator -- code-named Project Raven -- and a drag-and-drop Java Application Builder with the Java Desktop System and NetBeans, Sun's open source Java-based IDE (integrated development environment).

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