IBM Pledges $1B for Linux and Open Source on Power Systems

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-09-17 Print this article Print

Moreover, "As IBM likes to do when we are quite serious about something, we like to demonstrate it by putting a financial term around it," Balog said. "And we like to use this billion dollar number. So we're talking about our billion-dollar commitment to Linux on Power. It's less about the number and more about the fact that as a $100 billion company, that means a lot of money to us. And as we put previous investments into Linux back a decade ago, we are really putting our wood behind the arrow here in terms of our commitment to Linux. It will be used for R&D and products, as well as for the ecosystem and go-to-market across the board.

"We think this is really important, and our clients tell us it is in a couple of areas," Balog continued. "One is the role they see the Power platform playing in big data. This is a platform designed to be a data-serving platform. As data continues to grow as an important requirement for our clients—not just data serving and data storage, but also getting better business insights from data through analytics and dealing with the vast scope of social and mobile data that clients want to do analysis around—we see Power continuing to be a very important platform for new-generation applications."

Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, commented on the investment in a statement, saying, "The last time IBM committed $1B to Linux, it helped start a flurry of innovation that has never slowed. IBM's continued investments in Linux for Power Systems is welcomed by the Linux community. We look forward to seeing how the Power platform can bring about further innovation on Linux, and how companies and developers can work together to get the most out of this open architecture."

Indeed, the "last time we invested heavily in Linux, we did a lot in that decade and it did lead to a windfall for the company," Balog said. "In this case, it's about, How do we really get the Power platform to be a growing part of the open server infrastructure? Our core capabilities around Power, around AIX and System I are not going away by any stretch of the imagination. But, at the same time, for those new workloads of social, mobile [and] big data, the market has chosen Linux and open software as the way they want to build those applications. Therefore, for my current Power clients they are expecting me to bring that innovation to them so they can continue to leverage the platform they're comfortable with."

IBM also wants to bring Power to broader buyers through a combination of Linux on the platform and building on what the company announced with the OpenPower group, "which says I'm willing to allow new buyers to think of using the Power platform in a server way for those markets," Balog said. "Open Power is all about the server business. We know there are the likes of Google and others who choose to build their own servers and we see the potential of others being equally interested in having an alternative that allows for more open innovation versus a single company driving the innovation agenda."

IBM has participated in and led a wide range of open-source projects since 1999, and today this includes OpenPOWER, OpenStack, Hadoop, OpenDaylight, KVM, Apache and Eclipse in addition to Linux. Hundreds of IBM programmers and engineers around the world are contributing to open source and driving open innovation as part of the collection of global open-source communities.

“IBM’s strategic investment in Linux helped make that reality possible but the effort also delivered profound tactical value and financial benefits to the company. It could be argued that Linux breathed fresh air into IBM’s venerable mainframe business,” King said. “In fact, over half of the mainframe MIPS shipped last year were Linux-based. IBM’s Power Systems are particularly well-suited to the cloud and big data applications, and this new Linux investment should also help bolster the market presence of Power solutions.”


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