The open source Linux operating system is making significant inroads into Germany, Europe's largest economy and home to some of the world's largest corporations.
That's the message being spread by numerous software executives attending the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in Frankfurt, Germany, from Tuesday through Thursday.
Granted, a conference and exhibition dedicated to Linux is a place where you would expect some hype -- and there's enough of that -- but there are some newsworthy developments, too.
IBM Corp., a major Linux supporter, has successfully deployed the technology for several large German customers, including the advertising agency BBDO Group Germany, the German bank HSBC Trinkhaus & Burkhardt KGaA and the global financial services firm Deutsche Bank AG, according to Philip Juliano, vice president of world Linux integration at IBM. "These are some examples of big companies using Linux intelligently -- that is, where it makes sense to use the technology," he said. "German banks and public administrations are particularly interested in Linux because of the operating system's reliability, flexibility and price."
In June, IBM struck a major deal with the German government to supply computers equipped with Linux software.
According to Juliano, IBM has over 4,600 Linux customers, with 1,500 software developers and another 5,500 software partners working on the system.
In addition, the IT giant operates Linux competency, integration and porting centers around the globe, said Colin Parris, director of communication sector solutions at IBM.
With an eye to Germany's large car industry, which is responsible for every seventh job in the country, John Pincomb, vice president of Linux marketing at Computer Associates International Inc., said Linux is slowly but steadily creeping into automotive electronics. "Currently, IT accounts for roughly 10 percent of a car's total production cost, with software representing 2 percent of that figure and hardware the remaining 8 percent," Pincomb said. "Over the next ten years, IT costs in car production will go up to 35 percent, with software accounting for 25 percent of that figure and hardware 10 percent. And Linux will play a big role in that software space."
DaimlerChrysler AG in Stuttgart, for instance, is one of the country's big car makers to deploy Linux in some of its onboard electronics.
One of the key advantages of Linux for enterprises, according to Pincomb, is that "the software allows them to move from one platform to another. "They can write applications once and run many times," he said. "That saves resources."
Indeed, saving human and financial resources is key to the German government, which is under pressure to slash public spending as a result of dramatically lower tax income. "We need to save money more than ever and believe that Linux will help," said Rudolf Bahr, a director with the German Federal Agency for Security in Information Technology. "But, equally important, we feel Linux gives us a flexibility we never had before."