IBM's Mills: Linux gaining ground

  • Carol Sliwa (Computerworld (US))
  • 16 August, 2005 10:23

Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive for IBM Corp.'s software division, spoke with Computerworld at the LinuxWorld Conference in San Francisco this week about Linux usage trends and the open-source operating system's future.

To what degree are you starting to see fresh deployments of Linux, as opposed to customers who are merely switching from Unix to Linux? They're still doing what they were doing, but they're also now doing a lot of incremental new implementations. What has been building momentum in the marketplace for the last couple years has been actually new applications going in that are running on Linux. Application providers are putting their code onto Linux because they want new sales.

Now that Linux is maturing, are you seeing more companies trying to virtualize their environments? There is clearly a trend toward trying to get better cost of ownership. The use of VMware or the Xen open-source hypervisor, these kinds of things are building up momentum in the marketplace because the customers are staring at cost of ownership and often relatively lightly loaded individual servers.

To what degree is IBM working on Xen? We have internal activity related to Xen. We are engaged with the (Xen) community. We're anxious to see Xen become more mature. We think the market needs choices on hypervisor virtual machine capability. An open hypervisor certainly has a lot of attractiveness.

Will Xen be IBM's recommendation for customers, once it's fully cooked and ready? We wouldn't be engaged in it if we didn't feel that we were going to eventually be putting a big endorsement around it.

How do you feel about Linux being a two-horse race between Red Hat and Novell? There were always smaller distributors, but this two-horse race phenomenon has been with us now for some time. We're perfectly fine with it. It's about distribution. It's about accessibility by the buyers to a fully packaged operating system.

You don't feel the need to have more control over Linux distribution? No.

Given the growing popularity of Linux, what are the plans for AIX? We'll continue to invest in AIX for as long as we have customers that are using AIX. I still have a team on OS/2.

Hewlett-Packard and Open Source Development Labs discussed the need to curb the proliferation of open-source licenses. What's your take? There's always going to be more than one. It's hard to imagine the world's going to get to one licensing model. So we're not necessarily bothered by the fact that there are multiples. We kind of expect that.

What about HP's call to adopt the GPL? Well, that's never going to happen. There are multiple viable popular sets of terms.

Do you disagree with what Sun did with open-source Solaris? They're hunting for ways to grow their business. I assume that's why you do those kinds of things. I'm not sure where that particular strategy goes in terms of what that'll mean to their financials as a company. But the fact that there are multiple licenses out there, to me, this is sort of a silly issue.