IBM to Invest Almost $US1B in Linux Development

IBM Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lou Gerstner on Tuesday announced at the eBusiness Conference and Expo in New York that Big Blue will continue to embrace the Linux operating system by investing nearly US$1 billion in software, hardware, services, the open source community and partnerships during 2001. "We started with the investment in Europe and Asia with our Linux competency centers," said IBM spokeswoman Lisa Lanspery, prior to the completion of Gerstner's speech. "It continues with the Open Source Development Center in Portland, Oregon."

IBM now will continue to build software and hardware developed on the Linux operating system, she said. The company currently has approximately 1,500 employees focused on Linux development and that number will grow, Lanspery said.

"The key is that this a worldwide investment," she said.

In addition to the nearly US$1 billion investment, Gerstner and IBM also announced a deal in which it will build what it claims is the world's largest Linux supercomputer. The supercomputer will comprise of 1,024 X-series 330 servers, packaged in 32 racks and all running Linux.

Petroleum manufacturer Royal Dutch/Shell Group will use the computer, running Red Hat Inc.'s Linux operating system, to study seismic data and identify world oil reserves. The supercomputer will assist with massive analytical and calculation capabilities in mining the data. IBM's Global Services will install the Linux cluster during January 2001 in Rijswijk, the Netherlands, according to an IBM statement.

In terms of software, IBM expects the adoption of Linux to increase among corporations during 2001, said Steve Solazzo, IBM vice president of global Linux strategy. This will, in turn, boost sales of the Linux versions of applications such as WebSphere and Lotus Development Corp.'s Domino.

Linux, historically, has been popular among buyers of IBM servers based on Intel Corp. chips, specifically the Netfinity family, Solazzo said. A rollout of P-series servers -- formerly known as the RS/6000 line -- loaded with Linux is expected by the second quarter of 2001, he said. Linux has been available on the mainframe Z-series servers -- formerly known at the S/390 line -- since May 2000 and a goal is to get more distribution deals to offer more Linux options. The Z-series currently can come configured with either TurboLinux Inc. or SuSe GmbH's versions of the open-source operating system.

Scalable Linux clusters, such as with the Royal Dutch/Shell initiative, will also become more common.

"We are investing very heavily in Linux net clusters," Solazzo said.

To deal with the expanded Linux focus, IBM plans to add Linux software engineers, Linux salespeople, Linux developers for specific server families and staff to manage relationships with business partners and ISVs (independent software vendors), Solazzo said.http://www.ibm.com

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