Big Blue tunes AIX for Linux

Beginning this autumn (US), IBM will kick its Unix strategies into a higher gear with a beefed-up version of its AIX operating system, which includes full Linux support, and a new series of servers that integrate NUMA technologies and are powered by IBM's long-awaited Power 4 chip.

AIX 5L will be sculpted to take advantage of IBM's upcoming Power4 RISC processor as well as Intel's IA-64 chip. The 64-bit operating system will contain the full set of Linux APIs, making it easier for developers and corporate users to port Linux applications to AIX and allowing Linux and AIX applications to exist side by side.

Bill Claybrook, research director for open-source software with the Boston-based Aberdeen Group (US), said IBM's move helps protect the investments of IBM customers who use both Linux and AIX.

"If I've been buying Linux and find that I really need a bigger machine, then I can move to AIX, and then right on into IA-64," Claybrook said, adding that there likely will be less migration from AIX to Linux than vice versa.

Dave Turek, vice president in charge of deep computing and Web servers in IBM's Enterprise Systems Group, said that with Linux support, 5L "gives our [AIX] developers access to some of the hotter Internet-based markets emerging, like finance and petroleum exploration."In the second half of 2001, IBM plans to deliver a server series, code-named Regatta, to be fueled by its upcoming Power4 1000MHz processor. At the high end, the symmetrical processing system will support as many as 32 processors and 256GB of memory and also IBM's clustering and HACMP (high-availability cluster multi-processing) software.

"NUMA technology will play an important role in Regatta: We see it as the culmination of two important technologies for us [NUMA and Power4] that will be brought together by AIX 5L," Turek said.

The new systems will contain the Federation Switch, the next-generation version of IBM's SP Switch used in its current line of RS/6000 servers. The new switch will make it easier for large shops to hook together clusters of existing RS/6000s and the upcoming Regatta servers. It makes it possible to connect as many as 1,000 processors in a cluster as well as interconnect their memory and I/O functions across large clusters of servers, a company spokesman said.

"You can attach an [RS/6000 Model] S80 to an SP Switch now, but with Regatta we think we can take things up to a whole new level. Connections between our traditional SMP [symmetric multiprocessing] systems and our clusters will become much more seamless," Turek said.

Big Blue offers more support

Believing developers are critical to its success against e-business archrivals such as Microsoft, Sun, and Oracle, IBM will roll out a raft of new technical and service support programs this week at its Software Solutions show in Las Vegas.

One new program, called Member Value Offerings, will give qualified developers access to a range of marketing and technical resources. Packaged options under the program include technical support for AS/400 Web servers, RS/6000 NUMA Q servers, and S/390 mainframes; The Solution Partnership Center option, which features priority enablement services; porting; and consultations.

The company will also unveil a developer domain on the Web for Websphere, which will offer free software and technical information, a Websphere/Domino Package, and Websphere Host Integration Services.

"We think these expanded developer programs indicate our increasing commitment to provide developers with the tools and resources they need in a rapidly expanding e-business marketplace," said Bob Timpson, general manager at IBM Developer Relations.

Timpson will give a keynote address that highlights the theme of this year's show, "No Limits: Building the Open E-Business Universe," in which he will outline to the 4,500 attending developers how IBM hopes to leverage them in accomplishing this.

IBM officials will announce they will spend US$600 million on developer programs this year. Many of these services programs will cover what IBM feels are the four primary needs of its developers: porting/enablement, education/communication, technical support, and help in going to market.

IBM will also announce a licensing program for emerging technologies via its AlphaWorks Web site.

Users, under the program and for as little as $US1,000, can license new technologies to create new products for a business or just enhance existing ones.

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