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

0-IBM's Linux Investment: A Look at Years of Commitment
2-Late 1990s
5-Early 2000s
7-February 2011
8-June 2011
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IBM's Linux Investment: A Look at Years of Commitment

By Darryl K. Taft

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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