IBM: Linux development pace skyrockets

IBM officials on Monday said the pace of application development for Linux is increasing dramatically, citing that some 4,200 applications have been developed during the past five months mostly for the company's server software, including WebSphere and DB2.

Since the launching of IBM's "Speed Start Your Linux App" program in May, the company claims 33,000 Windows and Intel-based third-party and corporate developers are now working with the Eclipse-based version of IBM's WebSphere Studio toolkit to create mission critical-class applications.

"What is really encouraging about the developers and applications is not just the number of them in such a short period of time, but that two-thirds of them are corporate developers as opposed to commercial developers producing apps in areas like financial services," said Scott Handy, director of Linux Solutions at IBM's Software Group.

Larger numbers of developers also are beginning to focus more on building applications in the retail, government, and automotive industries, Handy added. He said many of these developers are doing so in order to gain more server reliability, a range of total cost of ownership benefits, and speed to market.

One developer agreed that IBM's five-month-old program significantly hastened the development and deployment of a Linux version of his application.

"The program did save us a great deal of time that would have been otherwise spent acquiring and configuring hardware. We were able to port and build a working copy of our software for Linux fairly quickly," said Lee Garrison, business development executive at Sitraka. "From our initial request, we had access to a system within 3 days and then 10 days later we had our JProbe software ported to our IBM eServer."

Some analysts said they were impressed with the accelerated pace of development, but that it does not come as that big a surprise given the open-source operating systems momentum the last year or two.

"This is another milestone on the path to acceptance broadly for Linux as a platform to host enterprise functions. We still believe that Linux will enter the mainstream and be a legitimate choice in most markets by 2005. So news like this makes it seem like it is still on track," said Dan Kusnetzky, a senior analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass.

A little more than half of the 4,200 applications created were for WebSphere with the balance being developed for DB2, Tivoli, and Lotus Notes. As the open-source Eclipse toolkit comes up on its one-year anniversary late this month, IBM officials said there has been 2.5 million downloads of it so far.

"That [Eclipse] really drove tools vendors to adopt a new platform, we think. It has opened the floodgates for a new set of tools. We have over 175 vendors who committed tools for Eclipse," Handy said.

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