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IBM Open Source Roadmap: Beyond Linux

IBM executives Tuesday rolled out a roadmap for the company's investment in new open source areas beyond Linux, in a continuing but quiet assault on Microsoft's territory: the desktop.

The company unveiled eight "key open source initiatives beyond Linux, aimed at accelerating the adoption of open standards and extending existing product lines to reach new customers...[as well as] new work with the open source community to improve the development of general Linux kernel functionality, expanding its Linux focus around virtualization, Cell processor technologies and security."

That will include both products and services using open source business models, the company said. The announcement came at the Linux World Conference and Expo in San Francisco this week.

"IBM is expanding our commitment to the open community by extending our development focus in key emerging areas as well as defining our open source business priorities," Scott Handy, vice president of Linux and Open Source at IBM, said in a prepared statement.

With so much hullabaloo over the proximity (or not) of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Longhorn Server, it may seem at times that nothing could thwart Microsoft's hegemony on the desktop, much less threaten it. IBM would beg to differ.

In fact, despite Microsoft's stock market capitalization, Big Blue is still the larger competitor, with $91 billion in revenues in its most recent fiscal year compared to Microsoft's $44 billion for fiscal 2006.

And while it divested itself of its PC manufacturing operations, IBM is still a giant player in enterprise desktop software with Lotus Notes, Domino, Workplace, Sametime and other products directed towards increasing corporate productivity through collaboration.

The company announced Monday it will ship a Sametime client for Linux within the next month. And a month ago, it began shipping a Notes client for Linux.

Prior to that, the only client options for both products were Windows.

On the top of IBM's list of open source initiatives are client-side middleware and developer tools built on the Eclipse platform-independent application framework. Also near the top are Web application servers based on Apache open source projects like Geronimo and data servers built on the Apache Derby database and IBM DB2 Express-C, which is available license-free, IBM points out.

Other initiatives include work on systems management including the open source Aperi storage project, as well as work on open hardware architectures through participation in Power.org and Blade.org. Additionally, the statement cited grid computing and IBM Research/Business Consulting and Technology Services as areas of focus.

IBM did not disclose a timeline for the roadmap. The company claims to have more than 15,000 "Linux-related" customer engagements worldwide.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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