Monday, February 9, 2015

IBM’s Billion Dollar Investment supports Linux as it Propels new Markets & Services

By Rich Ptak

In 2013, IBM announced its $1B investment in Linux, fueling new ideas and solutions in the process.  Most of the investment has been on the POWER architecture and is beginning to pay off in multiple areas, with new solution vendors looking to take advantage of chip and memory advancements.

POWER8, the latest payoff, demonstrates IBM’s commitment to drive significant change in the Linux market. An interesting investment, but why would an IT architect or developer care? As an IT professional involved with Linux, IBM’s investment and resulting fallout can make your job easier as well as potentially directly benefit your career.

We think POWER8’s open hardware, the only architecture open to the market, will repeat the commercial success of the open software model. Open software revolutionized the software business. For hardware, it is already inspiring creativity as it drives ISVs, integrators and enterprises to work on the POWER8 Linux platform. This increases platform choice for customers and provides more opportunities for developers for the platform.  Our series of blogs will discuss more of the opportunities we see from IBM’s investments, what they may look like and how to take advantage of them.

Also growing from the investment is a steady build-up of Linux expertise at IBM’s client and partner support centers worldwide[1].  The more than 1200 ISV applications currently available on POWER8 can be partially attributed to these centers. These centers also offer free help for such activities as migrating apps[2] (e.g. between Intel and Power Systems) thus reducing risks, facilitating cross platform communication, code conversions and/or code development for POWER8 Linux. In addition, IBM has developer cloud support for free access[3] to Linux on POWER8 platforms. IBM’s BlueMix Cloud can also be used to assist Power8 Linux development.

The OpenPOWER foundation[4] is another major expansion of IBM support for POWER8/Linux. Created by IBM, Google[5], Mellanox, NVIDIA and Tyan, the Foundation allows member companies to leverage POWER technology and architecture to develop products. Rapid growth to ninety members (Samsung, Rackspace, Hitachi, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, etc.) and academic associates (Rice University, Oregon State University, etc.) adds to the momentum.

Foundation member efforts have already successfully brought a number of products to market. For example, Redis Labs, Altera, Canonical, and IBM collaborated to produce the IBM Data engine for NoSQL. NVIDIA and IBM cooperated to produce the IBM POWER S824L server with GPU acceleration. Both were announced last October. You can expect more product announcements in coming months.

We believe that these are among the most significant developments to date in the Linux world. Future blogs will explore further details of POWER8 technology and services.  We’ll discuss what it means to developers/users in more detail as well as discuss benefits to architects, developers and other users.

[1] IBM Client Centers see:; IBM Innovation Centers see:; POWER Development Platform see:
[2] Note that Linux on RHEL (in beta), SUSE and Ubuntu are all supporting little endian on Power
[4] More information about OpenPOWER at: for a discussion of the exciting projects underway.
[5] Google demonstrates its motherboard with a POWER8 processor: