January 30, 2001

IBM, Japanese PC makers: We want to help Linux in the enterprise

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -
IBM and three Japanese PC makers are banding together to pump up Linux's functionality for the "enterprise" business market.

IBM, Fujitsu, Hitachi, and NEC already have thousands of developers working with members of the Linux community on Linux-for-the-enterprise projects, but today's agreement will help the four companies avoid duplication and speed up results, says Dan Powers, director of Internet technologies for IBM. The four companies have worked together on the Open Source Development Lab.

The companies aren't planning something as formal as a project hosting site; instead focusing more on steps such as introducing developers working on similar projects. IBM alone has about 2,000 developers working on Linux projects, Powers estimates, and the four companies will welcome others who want to join them.

"We felt it probably made sense that we should deepen or expand the relationships that we already had, with the thought that four heads are better than one," Powers says. "It's all about speed and collaboration, trying to get these enhancements out into Linux quicker."

In a press release titled, "Leading Linux companies announce alliance to help Linux mature," the companies gave examples of projects they will work together on. One is a "serviceability project designed to enhance problem isolation, the ability to quickly and precisely isolate problems in running systems," according to the press release. Another project Other projects planned include scalability and non-uniform memory access capabilities for Linux.

Powers says the three PC makers are also interested in IBM's Project eLiza, a effort to make "self-healing" servers that can manage their own problems and fix them. Much of eLiza's focus will be on IBM's Linux server platform, Powers adds.

Powers says the partnership also demonstrates the interest in Linux from the Asia-Pacific market, where IBM signed a Linux kiosk deal with convenience store chain Lawson Inc. last fall. "Everybody's very interested over there about the price performance they're getting out of Linux and access to a huge skills base of services companies," he says.

The call for enterprise enhancements to Linux have come both from people in the Linux community and from IBM customers, Powers says. "When you talk to CIOs, before they'll adopt anything in their enterprise, they're extremely concerned about the scalability, the performance, the availability," he adds. "With Linux being an Open Source project, they potentially take a step back and say, 'Is it ready for prime time?' We think it is, but it can only get better."

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