Chiphopper ports Linux to IBM Power and mainframe servers

Chiphopper aims to significantly expand the number of Linux applications available for the company's Power and mainframe platforms by leveraging x86 Linux solutions.

IBM eServer Application Advantage for Linux AKA Chiphopper, aims to help port x86-based Linux applications to the company's Power and mainframe architectures by providing ISVs free IBM tools and services. The program includes IBM tools for checking application portability, access to IBM Innovation Centers for program testing, IBM Chiphopper validation for qualifying programs, sales and marketing assistance, and post-sales support. IBM also plans to announce Solaris-to-Linux and Windows-to-Linux feeder programs to help grow the number of available Linux x86 applications.

The Pitch

IBM says about 6,000 x86 Linux applications are currently available, and hopes to double that number by the end of 2007. Chiphopper aims to significantly expand the number of Linux applications available for the company's Power and mainframe platforms by leveraging x86 Linux solutions.

Mission Accomplished?

Chiphopper reflects the critical synergy that exists between hardware vendors and ISVs. Without applications, after all, computers are little more than expensive doorstops. Without dynamic vendor partnerships, ISVs' options are limited to those they can create or promote alone. IBM hopes Chiphopper can provide a positive 'tipping point' for both sides of this equation by helping to drive a stream of vital new applications to IBM's signature Power (iSeries and pSeries) and mainframe (zSeries) solutions. Every computing platform's ongoing success rests on both meeting the needs of existing customers and delivering solutions designed to pique the interest (and open the pocketbooks) of new clients. Since IBM officially exited the applications business, it has pursued a middleware-centric strategy whose success depends in large part on helping foster business opportunities for its ISV partners. This has resulted in IBM efforts ranging from narrowly focused vertical offerings to broad initiatives such as the company's Express portfolio. If it works as intended, Chiphopper should provide IBM's enterprise server solutions an infusion of new blood that will broaden their appeal across new markets, industries, and customers.

However, the benefits of Chiphopper are not one-sided. By helping x86 Linux ISVs access its enterprise class platforms IBM is also materially aiding their chances for success. There are good reasons for ISVs to be interested in the program. First, IBM has been notably aggressive in promoting and delivering Linux solutions in all of its product families, as well as developing Linux-specific offerings such as its OpenPower servers. In addition, while IBM's pSeries' servers have any number of natural Unix competitors, the company's iSeries and zSeries solutions offer customers and developers virtually unique capabilities. In other words, aligning their offerings with IBM's via Chiphopper will provide ISVs entry to markets that other vendors have difficulty accessing. In essence, IBM hopes to do well by doing good with the Chiphopper program. Considering the company's previous experience with similar partner-focused strategic efforts, we expect that Chiphopper could help IBM and its associated x86 Linux ISVs to do very well indeed.

Note: Charles King is the Principal Analyst of Pund-IT, Inc. This report appeared in the February 16, 2005 edition of Pund-IT's Weekly Review.

© 2005 Pund-IT Research. All rights reserved.

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