IBM thinks Linux could be the engine that drives Brazil's up-and-coming IT industry to the next level. And it wants to be the company Brazilian developers turn to, as they learn the rules of the road.
Brazil's emerging IT market, like those in China, India, and elsewhere, is hardly a secret among western technology firms: Microsoft, for example, has steadily increased its efforts to market Windows and related technologies, targeting both potential customers and Brazilian software developers. At the same time, enterprise Linux vendors such as Red Hat and Novell are also moving to stake their own claims in the still wide-open Brazilian IT market, opening full-time offices and hiring staff to direct the companies' efforts.
Big Blue Puts Down Roots
Of the foreign software companies operating in Brazil, however, IBM may be the single most established and influential players -- a position the company underscored earlier this year, when it pledged $2.2 million to build a Linux Technology Center in Sao Paulo. Although such an investment looks modest by U.S. or European standards, in relative terms it represents a major commitment -- both in terms of the money involved and as a reminder that IBM considers Brazil a key piece of its long-term Linux strategy.
In fact, IBM is already a familiar presence within Brazil's open-source developer community: The company's first Linux related project, a joint promotion with Brazil's federal government, launched in October, 2003. "There is strong government support for Linux in Brazil, with the twin objectives of saving money and encouraging the development of a local ecosystem of ISVs and business partners," said Adam Jollans, IBM's Open Source strategy manager in Brazil. "The result of this is a thriving Linux market in Brazil, across both private and public sectors."
According to Jollans, demand for Linux and other open-source technologies has also diversified in qualitative terms; today, IBM provides its Brazilian customers with solutions ranging from relatively simple e-commerce solutions to advanced Linux-based clustering and high-performance computing solutions. Nevertheless, Brazil's IT labor force, like its markets for IT products and services, demands a different approach from companies that typically tailor their marketing efforts to more experienced IT professionals. "Although the Brazilian Linux solutions market is more mature if compared to a couple of years ago, training and education is still highly demanded by the market. says Reinaldo Roveri, an analyst with IDC who covers the Brazilian IT market.
In this context, IBM's investments in Brazil, including its Linux Technology Center, serve a dual purpose: they establish the company as an authoritative voice within the country's Linux developer community; and they enable the company to provide relevant, Linux-related training and educational opportunities.