LinuxWorld: IBM President Says Linux Will Drive E-Business - InformationWeek

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LinuxWorld: IBM President Says Linux Will Drive E-Business

If the first generation of E-business--now defined by the dot-com meltdown--was driven by the creation of the Internet, then its next, more profitable iteration, in which brick-and-mortar companies with sustainable business models integrate business processes over the Web, will be facilitated by Linux, says Sam Palmisano, IBM's president and chief operating officer.

Delivering a keynote Wednesday morning at LinuxWorld in New York, Palmisano told a room full of programmers that the open-source operating system is the standard around which developers should rally in their quest to build applications that can run on multiple platforms and communicate across disparate networks. "Think about it as application connectivity," Palmisano said. In particular, he said, corporate infrastructures will need to run open-source code just to have a hope of supporting the multitude of platforms, devices, and applications that will result from the explosion in wireless communications. "For that to take off we need to get standards established. ... Linux has this role," Palmisano said.

Among the major computer vendors, IBM has led the way in terms of driving the adoption of Linux in the enterprise. The company hopes that if it can demonstrate the operating system's viability in large installations, IT managers will have little incentive to choose equipment from rivals such as Sun Microsystems, which uses its own proprietary--and more expensive--Solaris operating system. With that in mind, IBM said Wednesday that it will invest more than $300 million to develop new Linux services during the next three years. It also unveiled a 64-processor server that will run Linux applications and said it plans to expand Linux support for its Tivoli Systems management software. "We are putting a significant amount of IBM's future prosperity on Linux," Palmisano said.

Some observers say the move could pay off, particularly as more and more software developers write open-source enterprise applications. "The interest in Linux is going to grow proportionately with the number of applications that are available," says Bob Sutherland, a Technology Business Research analyst.

If that's the case, interest likely increased considerably Wednesday when Oracle said that, in partnership with Dell Computer, it will develop a version of its Oracle9i database software for Linux. The software will be developed and tested on Dell's Intel-based PowerEdge servers and PowerVault storage systems at the computer maker's Linux competency center, set to open this spring. The center will be open to Dell customers.

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