IBM's Linux Investment: A Look at Years of Commitment

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-09-18 Email Print this article Print

More than a decade after initially pledging to invest $1 billion in Linux, IBM has announced it will invest another $1 billion in improving the operating system on its Power Systems. IBM initially began talking about investing heavily in Linux in 1999 and formally announced the earlier $1 billion figure and began investing in 2000. Announced at LinuxCon 2013, IBM's latest $1 billion pledge aims to help clients capitalize on big data and cloud computing with modern systems built to handle the new wave of applications coming to the data center in the post-PC era. Two immediate initiatives that IBM announced—a new client center in Europe and a Linux on Power development cloud—focus on rapidly expanding the company's growing ecosystem supporting Linux on Power Systems, which today represent more than 400 independent software vendors (ISVs) with more than 1,000 applications, as well as more than 2,500 open-source applications worldwide. This eWEEK slide show looks at how IBM has been involved with Linux over the years.

  • IBM's Linux Investment: A Look at Years of Commitment

    By Darryl K. Taft
    0-IBM's Linux Investment: A Look at Years of Commitment
  • 1993

    Two years after it was developed and its source code released, Linux has taken off and hundreds of developers, including engineers from IBM, are using it.
  • Late 1990s

    During a world tour of Internet companies and introductions to young developers all over the globe, Linux caught the attention of IBM's then senior vice president Sam Palmisano (left). Along with Irving Wladawksy-Berger (right), then head of Internet strategy, Palmisano commissed a study and convinced then CEO Lou Gerstner to embrace the Linux operating system. This is when IBM first puts its eggs in the open-source basket, now a huge part of its business and the development ecosystem globally.
    2-Late 1990s
  • 1999

    Linux receives an important boost when IBM formally announces it will embrace the operating system as strategic to its servers and software strategy.
  • 1999

    IBM's Linux Technology Center was established as the primary vehicle to participate in the Linux community. The Linux Technology Center's aim was to make Linux better, expand the platform’s reach for new workloads, enable IBM products to operate with Linux and increase collaboration with customers to innovate in ways IBM cannot do by itself. A year later, IBM announces a $1 billion investment to back the open-source movement. This grabs the attention of CEOs and CIOs around the globe, and helps Linux be accepted by the business community.
  • Early 2000s

    IBM brings Linux to the mainframe with its announcement that it will predominantly market and sell mainframe-based Enterprise Linux Servers as part of its System z line.
    5-Early 2000s
  • 2007

    IBM becomes a founding member of the Linux Foundation, an organization to provide the services needed to advance the platform. As a member, IBM supports the neutral development, promotion and protection of the platform with its membership fees.
  • February 2011

    Watson, IBM’s cognitive computing solution that is built on Power Systems running Linux, wins "Jeopardy," beating the two highest ranked players in the show’s history on national television.
    7-February 2011
  • June 2011

    As part of its centennial celebration, IBM lists Linux as one of its 100 Icons of Progress along with key innovations such as the electric typewriter and the PC.
    8-June 2011
  • 2012

    IBM introduces two new PowerLinux-specific systems, the PowerLinux 7R1 and PowerLinux 7R2, focusing on solutions for big data analytics, industry applications and open-source infrastructure services such as Web-serving, email and social media collaboration services.
  • 2013

    Following the initial investment in 2001, IBM announces another $1 billion investment, this time directed specifically at advancing Linux on Power. Along with this investment is the fourth Linux Center in Montpellier, France. This all comes directly on the heels of the OpenPower Consortium, under which IBM will license the core intellectual property for its Power technologies to other companies for use in designing servers employed in cloud data centers.
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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