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12/8/2003
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Opinion: Enterprises Must Embrace Linux And Grid Computing

Look ahead to grid computing and open source or you'll be left to deal with a morass of legacy systems, Lou Bertin says.

Solutions abound, but as our pal Jack can attest, it's a long way from theory to a reality that can only be brought about with the investment of actual legal tender. Surely, the best and the brightest and not only the biggest of the enterprise users have found their way through the pain and awkwardness of their technology adolescence. The folks there, whether their lineage is (to apply the archaic tribal definitions) on the business side of the house or the technology side of the house, have seen the ultimate benefit that comes from fully exploiting technologies and the unrelentingly evolving techniques for deploying those technologies. Justification for investment is slowly replacing return on investment as the ultimate measure of where, how, and how many dollars will be deployed. So it ought be and so it is becoming, albeit at a glacial pace, based on what I hear at our reader gatherings. Patience and perseverance remain required in large doses.

Which brings us to the question of where those dollars should be deployed. That, in turn, brings us back to IBM. Just as our proud (if sheepish) IBM veteran observed, IBM is in largest part responsible for the mlange of platforms out there. To its credit, however, IBM also is showing us the way through that thicket and into a far more promising future.

Most notably, I point to the perceptible advances being made by organizations that have embraced the grid and Linux, both beneficiaries of IBM's relatively early and enthusiastic embrace. If organizations haven't already experienced--or aren't even examining--the benefits of G (as in "grid") forces, especially in combination with Linux, more's the pity. There's our future, writ large.

I don't ascribe particular charitable attributes to IBM, but it's prescience in pushing the "open" world unmistakably indicates that it completely grasps both the needs and demands of its enterprise customers, a base of customers who have had it tougher than it needed to be precisely because of the near-absence of choice through the years, especially when it comes to the desktops of the last 15 years.

The grid plays to IBM's strengths (though not exclusively those of IBM) and IBM was early to the party in realizing that a red hat complements almost anything dressed in blue.

G-forces and red hats ... odd icons, but the bet here is that by the time the last column of 2004 is written they'll have been the drivers of enterprise evolution that finally will once again resemble the pace of technology evolution.

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