At the opening of the LinuxWorld tradeshow this week in San Francisco, IBM introduced a series of new products, services, and initiatives that enable the next generation of Linux.
As the company marks 10 years of support for Linux, IBM announced a number of cross-company initiatives to drive the next generation of Linux. Attributes of next-generation Linux include its role in green IT; use of Linux in business-critical workloads, use by midmarket customers, on the desktop client of the future, and using the innovation-through-collaboration approach of the Linux community to bring technology advances to customers.
The announcements include the first contribution of open-source software for supercomputers based on Linux; a new ISV software appliance toolkit that will expand the reach of Linux into the midmarket; pre-loading of Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 in Lotus Foundations, a hardware and software bundle geared for businesses from five employees on up; an expansion of its real-time Linux initiative; the introduction of a new version of z/VM with a dynamic memory upgrade feature available for Linux users; a planned initiative with Canonical/Ubuntu, Novell, and Red Hat around Lotus Notes and Lotus Symphony; and more.
"IBM has been a major supporter of Linux and open source for 10 years, helping to drive the adoption of Linux by millions of users, across tens of thousands of devices and applications," said Inna Kuznetsova, director of Linux at IBM. "Linux is clearly mainstream. We look forward to the next 10 years, where Linux will continue to increasingly drive business-critical workloads for all sizes of organizations, while empowering the new enterprise data center through virtualization, real-time Linux, cloud computing, and other advances, including liberating the desktop."
Contributes Key Code for Supercomputers
IBM released this week its first certified package of open-source software for supercomputers based on Linux. The IBM HPC Open Software Stack is designed to make "clusters" (servers linked together to form a single super-fast system) more productive and easier to manage. Included in the new open stack is IBM's Extreme Cluster Administration Toolkit (xCAT). The IBM HPC Stack is available through a software repository hosted by the University of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), home to some of the largest cluster systems in the world. The repository is available at: ftp://linuxpatch.ncsa.uiuc.edu/.
Linux-Based Software Appliances for SMBs
IBM also announced it is enabling ISVs to deliver Linux-based software appliances to midmarket customers through an ISV software appliance toolkit. Software appliances are ready-to-use, fully integrated solutions that can be delivered on DVDs or USB drives, reducing a company's level of IT skills required to deploy the solutions, which can be installed in as few as one-to-five clicks. This is viewed as a great benefit to midmarket customers who are seeking ways to automate operations, but find traditional software deployments are often too complex and expensive for their resources and budgets, the company said. Linux-based software appliances have all the necessary software components in a single compact package.
The company also announced a preconfigured version of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 in Lotus Foundations and a toolkit that opens new opportunities for Domino software vendors (ISVs) to deliver their applications on a software appliance to the smallest businesses. IBM's first hardware and software bundle geared for businesses from five to five hundred employees, Lotus Foundations is a line of self-managing appliance servers that allow small companies to focus on running their business instead of their IT operations. By agreement with Novell, it is now even easier for SMBs to use Lotus Foundations and capitalize on the cost-efficiencies, reliability, and stability of Linux, the company notes.
Linux is also helping to drive IBM Power Systems. The company is reporting a threefold increase in customer adoption of virtualization on its unified Power Systems line of servers that is being fueled by customers consolidating additional Linux partitions onto existing servers. This significant leap in the uptake of virtualization exceeds by a large margin levels common on x86 systems.
Analysis of IBM's configuration data for systems shipped to customers shows that year-to-year the new POWER6-based Power Systems had a PowerVM virtualization attach rate of 64 percent in the second quarter compared to just 21 percent in the same quarter last year. Using Gartner estimates of shipment data, IBM calculates that only 1.7 percent of new x86 servers shipped in 2007 were configured with virtualization. The 21-percent adoption rate for PowerVM last year was already more than 10 times the virtualization attach rate on x86 systems, but PowerVM acceptance has tripled in a year to a level likely to exceed x86 estimated virtualization attach rates by an even higher margin, the company says.
IBM adds that it has found that many customers are moving Linux to Power Systems to simplify their computing environments by collapsing the Web or application tiers with the back-end database tiers. UNIX, Linux and i customers are choosing a shared infrastructure computing model to increase their asset utilization, simplify their environment, and drive down the costs of operations, management and energy. That value proposition is winning in the marketplace as businesses move Linux compute tiers usually found on x86--in addition to Sun and HP UNIX--to the Power Systems shared infrastructure model.
A sizable number of Power servers configured with Linux partitions also have data and/or transactions running on an AIX or i partition. This two-tier-in-a-box saves money with the promise of generally higher server utilization and simplifies the environment by collapsing two tiers onto one physical server.
IBM announced a new release of z/VM with more dynamic and robust virtualization and connectivity enhancements to support rapid business growth without additional overhead. Most notably, customers will benefit from a new dynamic memory upgrade feature that allows users to add extra memory for sharing across every virtual server, without a system outage. With z/VM V5.4, customers can now grow their z/VM-hosted virtual server environment by adding hardware assets like CPU and memory without disruption. This supports IBM's Big Green Linux initiative.
"With a worldwide 24/7 SAP implementation, downtime is not an option. The new z/VM release allows us to continue to add and grow our system without any outages," says Mark Shackelford, vice president of Information Services at Baldor Electric. "Running z/VM along with the IBM System z Linux implementation of SAP has allowed us to support our recently expanded company with little additional resources. z/VM 5.4 continues to allow us to manage very large servers and application functionality with a minimum of effort."
IBM is building on its support for real-time Linux, adding support for Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Real Time Linux with select IBM BladeCenter servers, and with WebSphere Real Time, which extends the business benefits of Java to time-critical applications. Real-time was traditionally a proprietary approach used for predictable, deadline-oriented functions like financial trading or air-traffic control. IBM worked closely with Novell, Red Hat, and the broader open-source community to develop real-time Linux and real-time Java, which brings openness, affordability, reusability, and scalability to an important computing function.
The predictable performance of real-time software is increasingly valuable for time-critical systems in every industry, from defense to financial markets, manufacturing, energy and utilities, and telecommunications. Earlier this year IBM announced similar WebSphere Real Time and BladeCenter support for Red Hat Enterprise MRG, and won the Red Hat Innovator of the Year 2008 Award along with Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems for their joint real-time work with the US Navy. This supports IBM's emerging-technologies-for-Linux initiative.
Lotus Notes and Lotus Symphony
In other news, IBM and leading Linux distributors Canonical/Ubuntu, Novell and Red Hat are planning to work together with their hardware partners to deliver Microsoft-free personal computing choices with Lotus Notes and Lotus Symphony in the one billion-unit desktop market worldwide by 2009.
WebSphere Application Server Community Edition
Also on the open-source front, IBM is introducing a new version of WebSphere Application Server Community Edition (WAS CE), based on the popular open source Apache Geronimo. WAS CE Version 2.1 makes it easier to develop, deploy and manage applications and includes enhanced server monitoring capabilities. The improved administration console simplifies and automates the application deployment process by providing an interactive deployment creation tool and the capability to deploy applications on a group of servers. Version 2.1 also offers the capability to create custom application servers with only the components needed to run a particular application, providing additional agility and flexibility.
WAS CE reduces the complexity of application development by pre-integrating Tomcat and the most commonly used open-source components, such as database, Web service, security, authentication, messaging, and Web tier clustering. WAS CE is available for download and use at http://www-306.ibm.com/software/webservers/appserv/community/.