Enterprise Linux: Wheres the Beef?

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-02-05

Oracle, intel and ibm may be expending a lot of money and resources to lift Linux into enterprise IT shops, but any large commitments from customers remain a well-kept secret. Or they dont exist. n Take IBM, for example. President and Chief Operating Officer Sam Palmisano knelt at the Linux altar last week at LinuxWorld, talking up Big Blues $1 billion commitment to the operating system whose mascot is a penguin, an animal best described as cute, slow and awkwardly built.

In Peter Gallis eweek.com LinuxWorld story last week, Linus Torvalds is quoted as saying $1 billion really is not that much of a Linux investment "in the big picture." But I would challenge him to find another Linux "picture" thats anywhere near as big as IBMs.

I wondered if all the rhetoric, money and porting effort had translated into a multitude of big enterprise wins and megadeals—or even spoken intentions. If its not on the Web site, it doesnt exist, right? Drilling into IBMs Linux site, heres what I found:

• A Deutsche Telekom subsidiary is using Linux to manage e-mail databases.

• Lawson, a Japanese convenience store chain, will use Linux to deploy in-store terminals that download games, music, movies and Web content.

• IBM will provide life sciences company Structural Bioinformatics with Linux servers as part of an investment in the company.

Thats all I could find. Not exactly a mainstream, is it?

If General Motors, Bank of America and Citicorp are making big bets on Linux, they arent telling a soul outside their corporate borders. Not that such information would naturally be there, but searching "Linux" on all three sites yielded zero results. Youd think there would be some mention of it.

Maybe theyre just not talking about it yet. Perhaps its too early. Given their corporate heft, these companies have to be running Linux servers somewhere. Could I be reading too much into Linux as a no-show on their Web sites? After all, competitive concerns often dissuade these companies from trumpeting new and different initiatives.

Linuxs status on Oracles site was much weaker than on IBMs. A "Linux" search turned up 77 hits, but after the first five, the topic was tangential. The most promising link in terms of an overview and strategic statement —Site Map Linux Internet Platform Oracle Corporation—was a dead link.

Linux newbie Intel also pales by comparison to IBMs commitment to Linux. Intel just opened up a Linux lab supported by a consortium of industrial giants that sprang for $24 million to fund it. But IBM is the biggest kahuna Linux has ever had—and possibly ever will have.

IBMs site and DB2 area offer an array of Linux-based products, commentary, propaganda and technical information. But wheres the beef in terms of customers even paying lip service?

That hamburger patty is mighty thin at the moment.

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