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September 18, 2013

IBM to Rain $1 Billion into Linux and Open Source for Big Data

Isaac Lopez

Citing the desire to help clients capitalize on big data and cloud computing, IBM announced this week at LinuxCon its intention to shovel another $1 billion (USD) over the next four or five years into new Linux and open source technologies for the company’s Power Systems servers.

The investment, which is expected to happen over the next four to five years, will be the second time that IBM has played Daddy Warbucks for the Linux space – the first time coming in 2001 when IBM invested $1 billion into the movement, giving Linux the server and mainframe footing that it has today (not to mention its catbird seat in the data heavy supercomputing space, where Linux dominates the TOP500 systems with installations in 95.2% of these monster systems).

The investment, which was announced in front of more than 1,400 Linux industry leaders at the Linux Foundation’s LinuxCon conference in New Orleans this week, will be applied to various product research, design, development, ecosystem skills, and go-to-market programs for clients, developers, Business Partners, entrepreneurs, academics, and students.

“Many companies are struggling to manage big data and cloud computing using commodity servers based on decades-old, PC era technology,” said IBM Fellow and Vice President of Power Development Brad McCredie in revealing the funding announcement. “These servers are quickly overrun by data which triggers the purchase of more servers, creating un-sustainable server sprawl. The era of big data calls for a new approach to IT systems; one that is open, customizable, and designed from the ground up to handle big data and cloud workloads.”

IBM says that they have two immediate initiatives in mind as they roll out the funding. The first will be a new Power Systems Linux Center in Montpellier, France, which IBM says will be among a growing network of centers around the world where software developers can build and deploy new applications for big data, cloud, mobile and social business computing using Linux and IBM POWER7+ processor technology.

The second initiative that IBM will undertake will be what they’re calling a “Linux on Power development cloud,” where partners and clients will be able to access a bank of Linux infused Power Systems in the cloud for the purposes of building and testing Linux applications on the Power platform, as well as applications built for AIX and IBM i.

IBM has a long history with Linux, including the creation of PowerLinux – the culmination of IBM merging its high-performance Power Architecture with the Linux OS, a move aimed at increasing efficiencies in data handling and processing. IBM claims that a PowerLinux compute cluster running Hadoop can sort through a terabyte of data 58% faster than one built with commodity x86 hardware. The company uses PowerLinux and Apache Hadoop to create their cognitive Watson Q&A systems.

Generally speaking, this is good news for everybody in the big data arena, except perhaps Microsoft, who still seems to be trying to find footing in the trending tech space. It will be interesting to see how Redmond reacts to this latest announcement, especially as the 2013 Fall conference season kicks into gear.

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