IBM embraces Linux for enterprise storage networking

IBM today announced that it has qualified some of its linear-tape backup products, servers and software to run on the Linux operating system, a move analysts say will further bolster the open-source platform for enterprise-class environments.

IBM said it has enabled its Shark enterprise storage server to work with its eServer z900 or an S/390 mainframe running on Linux. The company said its modular storage server, FAStT200 and FAStT500 disk storage servers and all Tivoli storage management software will also be able to run on Linux.

Linda Sanford, senior vice president and group executive of IBM's Storage Systems Group said in a statement that the new products show that IBM has moved beyond simply acknowledging the Linux movement and is "embracing the open-source and open-standards philosophy.

"By enabling all of our storage products for Linux, we again prove our ability to translate industry-leading technologies into open, standards-based solutions for customers," she said.

Toronto-based MDS Proteomics, a life sciences company, is using IBM's Linux and Unix-based disk and tape drives to create a fault-tolerant storage system to assist in identifying and analyzing the function of proteins.

"We selected DB2 and IBM to provide us with a cluster-based scalable system for the long term," Christopher Hogue, MDS Proteomics' CIO, said in a statement. "We believe that our data-intensive discovery platform could generate enough information to greatly expand the scientific and medical communities' understanding of human biology and disease."

Linux is the fastest-growing operating system among storage customers, with an estimated 35% compounded annual growth rate through 2004, according to IDC.

Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, said IBM has successfully jockeyed for a lead position against competitors such as Dell Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Compaq Computer Corp. in the emerging Linux marketplace. Linux is currently a mainstream operating system in only a few environments, such as research, engineering and Web services.

Embracing Linux is also a cost-effective move for IBM's customers, Kusnetzky said, because the software was created to look like Big Blue's open-source Unix operating system. Therefore, end users already using IBM's AIX operating system will immediately feel comfortable with Linux.

"They could be presenting Linux as a low-end product and their AIX operating system as the high-end solution," Kusnetzky said. "That gives them a one-two punch to increase revenue."

Steve Duplessie, an analyst at Storage Enterprise Group in Milford, Mass., agreed.

"The entire Linux world is picking up steam. It's getting real commercial production use," he said. "So hats off to [IBM]. Way to go."

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Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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