IBM today began selling its Intel-based Netfinity servers equipped with Linux from Caldera Systems Inc. The pre-installed option is a further commitment by IBM to the upstart operating system. In fact, IBM plans to add Linux packages from Red Hat Inc. and TurboLinux Inc. as options as well.
"We're looking at do-it-yourself and price-sensitive users," says Jay Bretzmann, the company's manager for Netfinity strategy. Basically, that's tech-savvy small businesses and larger companies with strong internal IT resources. He adds that Linux is also gaining popularity in hosting environments, which have a growing number of open-source applications such as Apache HTTP Server.
Bretzmann says Netfinity buyers can save as much as 25% per server by opting for the open-source operating system over Windows NT or Windows 2000.
For now, IBM will offer pre-installed Linux only on two-way or single-processor Netfinity servers. Bretzmann says; however, support for four-way systems may not be far off. "The issue is scalability, but we're working with the open-source community to help resolve some of those issues," he says.
Bretzmann estimates that 8% to 10% of IBM Netfinity users run Linux. At the other end of the spectrum, the company is pushing Linux as an option for its mainframe users. Individuals familiar with IBM's plans say it will soon reveal formal support for Linux on its S/390 server.