IBM: Why Open Computing?


Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post by Adam Jollans, Program Director of Linux and Open Virtualization Strategy at IBM.

Open computing has never been more important, and the ecosystem around Linux and KVM has never been stronger. The growing adoption of open computing technologies such as Linux is due to the core value they provide. Open computing has three key advantages over proprietary systems – speed of innovation, integration, and choice.

Speedof innovation. Open computing enables radical innovation of products, markets and business models by exploiting new technologies. It’s no accident that most of the born-on-the-web companies use open technologies – or that open source software underpins cloud computing, big data, and social software.

Adam Jollans IBM To help further this innovation, just this week at LinuxCon and CloudOpen Europe in Edinburgh, The Linux Foundation announced that the Open Virtualization Alliance (OVA), a consortium committed to fostering the adoption of open virtualization technologies, will become a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project. By taking the OVA under its wing, The Linux Foundation will help maximize the reach and further increase understanding of KVM for companies looking to adopt open virtualization technologies. There is a higher degree of innovation taking place within KVM than other virtualization technologies which is why KVM has achieved milestones in performance  and security.

Open computing brings people together from a wide variety of backgrounds and companies. It is not just a single company doing the innovation.  Companies are sharing their innovation and building on each others’ ideas. By sharing ideas, skills and resources, open development communities can move faster than proprietary companies acting alone.

Integration – and interoperability. Open computing can streamline operations and effectiveness by deep integration of new and legacy products and services. Through open APIs available to all, hardware and software products from different vendors can interoperate, and solutions can be built from components developed by different providers. Furthering this open approach, in August, Google, IBM, Mellanox, NVIDIA and TYAN announced the formation of the OpenPOWER Consortium – an open development alliance based on IBM’s Power microprocessor architecture. This move opens up the advanced Power architecture for innovation in data centers around high-performance, Web 2.0 and cloud computing workloads – as well as making Power IP licensable to others. In September, IBM also announced plans to invest $1 billion over the next 5 years in new Linux and open source technologies for IBM’s Power Systems servers.

Twenty years ago, before the rise of the internet, open standards and open definitions were not as important. As we move into the era of cloud computing, open standards are critical. Think about it – the one thing you don’t want is to move your applications to the cloud and then have to stay with that one particular vendor’s cloud.

Choice – today and tomorrow. This is the big differentiator in terms of open computing. Open computing delivers lower costs and improved operational efficiency through freedom of choice in IT to avoid vendor lock-in. If you choose open technologies at the beginning, you can continue to make choices later. You are not locked in. If it you are using the cloud, you can choose one cloud and then move to another later on. If you are using Linux, you can start on one hardware architecture and then migrate to another, as IBM did with Watson. Watson was on Linux, because that was the platform for Hadoop and innovative search technologies, and the initial implementation was on x86. Watson then moved to Power to gain the additional performance enabled by Power chips. We were able to do that because open computing allows us choice.

The point is that if you have an open strategy, you can choose the best products to suit your needs, unconstrained by previous decisions. IT vendors compete on price and quality, and focus on delivering client value. The shared development of common functionality lowers the overall cost and offers a platform for innovation. This is something that proprietary technologies cannot offer.

The Benefits of Being Open

We’ve seen the benefits of open computing delivered through Linux, Apache and Eclipse – and play out again today through OpenStack; Hadoop; OpenDaylight, another collaborative project under The Linux Foundation; and KVM, to name just four open technologies. IBM’s strong commitment to open technologies dates back to 2000 when we announced that we would embrace Linux as fundamental to our systems strategy, followed a year later by a $1 billion investment in Linux, with a focus on improving the operating system from within the Linux community. Linux is supported as a tier 1 operating system across all IBM systems.

The demand for Linux continues to grow. According to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, in 2Q13, Linux servers now represent 23.2% of all server revenue, up 1.8 points when compared with the second quarter of 2012. IBM understands that now and in the future, speed of innovation, integration, and choice are critical attributes for our customers that are enabled and enhanced by open technologies.

If you would like to learn more about the business benefits of Open Computing, join me on Oct. 29 at 1 p.m. ET for a live online debate. See details here:

Adam Jollans is currently leading the worldwide cross-IBM Linux and open virtualization strategy for IBM. In this role he is responsible for developing and communicating the strategy for IBM’s Linux and KVM activities across IBM, including systems, software and services.

He is based in Hursley, England, following a two-year assignment to Somers, NY where he led the worldwide Linux marketing strategy for IBM Software Group. He has been involved with Linux since 1998, and prior to his U.S. assignment he led the European marketing activities for IBM Software on Linux.