LINUX is driving innovation in technology, says IBM’s regional Linux point man, Ivan Kladnig, who tells Louis van Wyk why Big Blue continues to throw its sizeable weight behind open standards.
Kladnig, IBM’s Sydney-based Linux business development manager for Australia and New Zealand, was in the country earlier this month to present at the IBM Forum conference and to talk to partners and customers about Linux.
His message focuses on how organisations can derive value from Linux, and what they are achieving with Linux and IBM hardware, software and services.
Because Linux is based on open standards, and is therefore not owned by anybody, it is driving technological innovation in several areas, says Kladnig.
So after years of focusing on proprietary technology IBM now believes the future of innovation lies in open systems, he says.
The company began focusing on open stan-dards about five years ago. Since then it has contributed 80% to the development of the J2EE (Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition) platform and has been working with other software firms to drive standards in web services, says Kladnig, whose role was created at the beginning of this year to drive Linux uptake.
“Customers have increasingly complex environments, with applications from a lot of different vendors, and integration is one of the major headaches for them. Linux plays a big part in reducing complexity and delivering more flexible and closely integrated environments,” says Kladnig.
Businesses can drive value from Linux because it is reliable, secure and flexible, he says.
Kladnig says surveys show reliability is the top reason people choose Linux, while flexibility and the choice it offers is also important.
Being the first major technology developed outside of North America is also an important factor for some users, while many governments see Linux as a way to broaden exposure to IT in their local communities.
“Linux is seen as important in the next step for countries to become technology economies — it fuels innovation and can drive ICT economies,” says Kladnig. “Governments are looking at how they can drive participation in Linux communities to drive innovation.”
To boost Linux adoption IBM is working closely with a variety of partners to develop much-needed applications and solutions for the platform, says Kladnig.
“We are encouraging partners to come onboard and are delivering incentives such as training and are helping them migrate their solutions to Linux,” he says.
“This is the fastest growing platform in the market. Partners should get in early and capture their space in the marketplace.”
IBM is also working with fellow software vendors Novell and Red Hat to provide partners with sales tools to help them market Linux offerings.
Although he says Linux adoption is growing at an unprecedented rate, Kladnig acknow-ledges that some negative perceptions still surround the platform, but believes these are changing.
One major concern users have is over support for Linux products, but Kladnig says IBM supports its Linux-based products in the same way as its other offerings.
Users also have concerns over the availability of people with Linux skills, he says, although this is becoming less of an issue.
IBM is working with several universities, partners and independent software vendors (ISVs) to boost Linux skills.
“The current crop of computer science graduates is very knowledgeable on Linux,” says Kladnig, adding that IBM has 7,500 people trained in Linux services worldwide.
In New Zealand IBM operates an Auckland-based Linux Centre of Excellence, staffed by 15 Linux-certified specialists led by Chris Phillips, which is backed up by over 40 engineers in Sydney.
The centre has developed automated tools and processes to deploy, support and manage Linux and open source implementations for customers in the Asia-Pacific region and their work is being further developed for global deployment.
Linux forms part of IBM’s core strategy to move customers to on-demand computing and all of its products are Linux enabled, says Kladnig.
“We continue to contribute to the development of Linux and are bringing some of the open source technology inhouse to help it develop faster.”