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IBM furthers the Linux cause with server, desktop moves

IBM took advantage of LinuxWorld in San Francisco to announce a bevy of new products and partnerships promoting Linux.

IBM Corp. announced several collaborative ventures with open source vendors and independent service providers (ISVs) at LinuxWorld Conference & Expo that it hopes will add to the appeal of the Linux operating system, whether it be for the small and medium-sized business market in high-performance computing or for the corporate desktop.

IBM server initiatives
Buttressing its bid to compete against Microsoft's Small Business Server, IBM announced that SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 is the first Linux operating system to be preloaded and preconfigured on its Lotus Foundations all-in-one business application server. Based on technology from Net Integration Technologies Inc., which IBM acquired earlier this year, Lotus Foundations is designed for small businesses with no IT staff, said Adam Jollans, IBM's strategy manager for worldwide Linux marketing. SUSE was the obvious choice for the first operating system because it had already been incorporated into Net Integration Technologies, he explained.

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IBM also announced a software appliance toolkit enabling ISVs to build applications that can be installed with a USB key or compact disk. Like Lotus Foundations, IBM believes these appliances will appeal to small business for their simplicity and reliability, Jollans said. This in turn will augment IBM's efforts to boost its presence in the medim-sized business market, which is growing fast, added Omar Pena, the IBM offerings manager for open source and Linux middleware.

In another effort to help mainframe-on-Linux shops, IBM reported that its new 5.4 version of system z/VM will enable Linux administrators to add more memory while remaining in operation, enabling them to expand capacity to keep pace with additional business demands and without halting production.

IBM also announced that it donated Linux code for managing and monitoring high-performance clusters to the open source community. The code donation, which comes as Linux use for supercomputing continues to grow, is in a repository at the University of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications and is downloadable from the site here.

Finally, Novell's SUSE Enterprise Linux Real Time 10 is now certified for operation on several IBM BladeCenter servers and with its WebSphere Real Time Java-based application development environment. Red Hat Enterprise Linux was also certified for real-time operation on IBM hardware earlier this year. Real-time systems guarantee that processes will occur within a specified period or latency.

Lotus on Linux desktops
With medium-sized business market expansion as one of five growth targets, the Armonk, N.Y.-based computer company has partnered with Red Hat, Novell and Canonical Ltd., the distributor of Ubuntu, to enable IBM Lotus groupware products to run on the Linux desktop distros sometime next year.

Several factors have coalesced to prompt this desktop move, including the unpopularity of Microsoft's Vista operating platform and the growing acceptance of open source, according to Jollans. The Lotus products will add valuable business applications to the open source operating systems, which they haven't had, and in turn will accelerate the adoption of the Linux desktop, Jollans said. And by building on Eclipse open source software, the IBM groupware will assume the look and feel of each of the respective operating systems, he said.

Malcolm Yates, Ubuntu's ISV alliance manager, said that the addition of IBM groupware on the desktop will increase Ubuntu's adoption in corporations and thus encourage free downloads of its server software. Ultimately, that will result in more paid support customers for both servers and desktops.

Charles King, a principal analyst at Pund-IT Inc. in Hayward, Calif, said that this IBM/Linux distro alliance is unlikely to convince large enterprises with thousands of desktops to switch from Microsoft, but it creates a "viable alternative" to Microsoft for businesses considering an OS upgrade.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Pam Derringer, News Writer . And check out Enterprise Linux Log.

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