In response to high double-digit growth in 2004 in the number of customers deploying IBM collaboration software on the Linux platform, IBM today announced plans to invest US$100 million over three years to expand Linux support and technology across its Workplace software portfolio.
Big Blue said the expanded Linux support will help give customers the ability to build end-to-end Linux solutions and provide expanded choices in choosing a client while helping to manage costs and increase flexibility through cross-platform support.
“Since customers have been looking for ways to extend the value of Linux to the desktop, IBM felt the time was right to deliver a fully supported Linux client alternative,” said Ambuj Goyal, general manager of Workplace, Portal and Collaboration Software, IBM. “IBM is helping customers to more fully utilize the business benefits of the Linux platform by providing software on Linux to help build the front end of their solutions.”
Moving Toward Linux
Today’s announcement is one of several recent enhancements to IBM’s Linux strategy. IBM Workplace Services Express, which provides integrated, “out of the box” collaborative capabilities for the small and medium business market, already ships with support for Linux.
IBM’s recently announced IBM Workplace Collaboration Services, which includes a disconnected, rich client enabled by IBM Workplace Client Technology, provides enterprise-level scalability and will ship with support for Linux when it becomes available, currently targeted for next quarter
IDC analyst Roger Kay told LinuxInsider that Big Blue is betting the enterprise is willing to offer a variety of client solutions to end users, including thin clients, semi-thin clients, Windows clients or Linux clients. He said IBM is free to push more Linux offerings with the sale of its personal computing division (PCD).
“Now that PCD is tied up with Lenovo, there’s less conflict of interest in IBM,” Kay said. “The enterprise division is interested in promoting PowerPC, which is the hardware architecture, and Linux. Now that it doesn’t have the PC division as an inhibitor, it can pursue those goals without conflict.”
More Non-Wintel Offerings To Come?
PCD was devoted to Intel and Microsoft. IBM, then, appeared to have conflicting interests by promoting Linux on one hand and partnering with Microsoft on the other hand, Kay explained.
By the same token, Kay said another conflict appeared when IBM promoted PowerPC through Apple and its own enterprise hardware while also promoting Intel X86.
“I expect to see a greater variety of non-Wintel offerings coming from the remaining IBM,” Kay said. “Between the Lenovo spinoff and the litigation funds to indemnify Linux customers, enterprises can begin to feel free to adopt some of these offerings.”