IBM joins NEC, Hitachi and Fujitsu to improve Linux

Responding to customer requests in Asia, IBM Corp. has joined with Fujitsu Ltd., Hitachi Ltd. and NEC Corp. to expand the development of the Linux operating system for wider business use.

In an announcement today, the four companies said they plan to pool resources and so they can add features to Linux sought by businesses that want to use the operating system.

Lisa Lanspery, an IBM spokeswoman, said all four companies have seen greater numbers of customers in the Asia-Pacific region ask about Linux and how to incorporate it into their servers.

But before that can be done, customers want to see improved usability and scalability, as well as other features that will allow Linux to better serve enterprise computing, she said.

By working with NEC, Fujitsu and Hitachi, which are all based in Japan, IBM believes it can make the needed improvements in a more streamlined development cycle.

"This is how our company feels we can get more technology out to our customers at a faster rate," Lanspery said.

The companies will work with the Linux community to develop various open source projects, according to the group.

Among the tasks being undertaken are a serviceability project designed to enhance problem-isolation in running systems, as well as scalability and Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) capabilities for Linux.

Demand for Linux-based servers is rising quickly in Japan. Last October, Framingham, Mass.-based IDC predicted shipments of Linux-based servers would be 41,200 in Japan during 2000, an increase of 144 percent over the previous year and accounting for 7.8 percent of all server shipments last year.

"Linux is rapidly becoming an enabler of e-business," said Daniel Frye, director of the IBM Linux Technology Center, in a statement. "This move today will help ensure that Linux gains in functionality and will ultimately provide technology decision makers a greater choice for their server environment."

Akira Ozora, general manager of Fujitsu Ltd.'s Linux Division, said in a statement that "Linux has risen with remarkable speed to become an Internet server standard." He added that his company wants to help with Linux's continued development to benefit its customers.

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