IBM's Linux sales go vertical

IBM's Linux sales go vertical

IBM has realigned its Linux strategy around selling industry- and business-specific applications, company executives said Tuesday at the Linuxworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco.

Linux deployments have transitioned from being a cost-effective replacement for existing systems to the "operating system of choice" for new applications, said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive for the IBM Software Group.

Because of this trend, IBM is seeing a need to provide Linux-based offerings that solve specific business problems rather than merely selling Linux because it's a more cost-effective option for customers, he said.

"It's no mystery to people in this room that the market has evolved from simple uses of Linux in the data stack ... into [uses] in a more sophisticated application environment," Mills said in a press conference Tuesday morning. "[The realignment] is a statement of the buying habits of the customer."

Refocusing its software sales efforts to take a more vertical industry focus is nothing new to IBM. The company already offers middleware bundles targeting specific industries, and aligns its ISV (independent software vendor) partnering efforts around those that offer applications for targeted markets. IBM competitor Microsoft Corp., too, has been encouraging its ISV partners to take a more vertical focus with their applications.

As part of its shift around Linux, IBM has designed offerings that include products, services and support for specific industries. For example, the Infrastructure for Automotive Common Environment is aimed at giving automotive companies a business-oriented IT infrastructure, according to IBM. The environment is comprised of four offerings from IBM -- business-driven application management, application platform unification, computing infrastructure simplification and IT business.

Another industry IT product for Linux is IBM Total Store Solutions, which is aimed at helping retail stores streamline their computing infrastructure. Offerings in this package include point of sale, self-checkout, wireless networking and digital security, according to IBM.

IBM also has developed a set of line-of-business applications based on Linux. Those include Front Office Optimization for Banking, which is aimed at helping banking customers replace multiple channel-based banking systems with a consistent IT interface for branch, call-center and self-service applications, according to IBM.

An additional offering under this umbrella is Production and Supply Chain Transformation, which is designed to help companies in the media and entertainment industry automate, manage and integrate existing support systems across their companies more efficiently and effectively.

In other IBM news, Red Hat will begin giving customers a 90-day evaluation copy of IBM Workplace Services Express software beginning Sept. 1, the companies unveiled at the show. The software will run on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system, giving developers a chance to test the collaboration suite on Linux.

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