IBM is serious about expanding the footprint of the Linux operating system running on Power servers.
Considering that IBM recently reported a 31 percent decline in overall Power-based systems revenue, it's a footprint that needs to get bigger, fast.
Today IBM announced a new initiative in China in an effort to help grow the position of Linux on Power. The new initiative will see a Power Systems Linux Center, located inside of IBM's China Systems Center in Beijing. The center will be staffed by over 30 dedicated Linux professionals that are tasked with enabling Chinese customers to run applications on Linux Power systems.
The Power Systems Linux Center will be operated in collaboration with IBM's Linux partners, Red Hat and SUSE Linux.
Chuck Bryan, Team Lead, Power Systems at IBM, explained to ServerWatch that the evolution of Linux is the key driving factor for the new push in China. In particular, Bryan noted Big Data usage, which is a workload that is enabled on Linux, is growing at an explosive pace.
"There are workloads and capabilities that are building and emerging around Linux that are very exciting to us and they really fit well with our Power architecture and the capabilities we can deliver with Power," Bryan said.
Bryan noted that Power is well positioned for large memory use in its server architecture for next-generation workloads. IBM expanded its Power server lineup in February of this year with eight new systems.
As IBM's overall Power server business is currently in a state of decline, Linux was recently touted by IBM's CFO as a route to growth for the platform.
China as a high-growth market makes a particularly attractive target for IBM's Power aspirations.
"In Beijing you've got the government that is very interested in Linux," Bryan said. "But you've also got customers as well as the ISVs themselves that are extremely interested in Linux, so this center lets us bring everyone together with the unique capabilities of Power."
Linux in China
Linux is not a new thing in China. As far back as 2004, the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), which is the precursor to the modern Linux Foundation, opened a center for Linux in China. Even Linux rival Microsoft has been active promoting Linux in China thanks in part to the company's patent deal with Novell SUSE.
In terms of IBM's current Linux position in China, IBM was unable to provide any specifics.
Bryan did note however that the Chinese market isn't quite the same as other markets around the world. For one, in China, SAP is not the largest ERP system in use; rather, there are other strong Chinese vendors that are the leaders. It is those leading Chinese ISVs that IBM is aiming to enable with the new center in Beijing.
"This is all about providing a technical knowledge transfer to our ISV and business partners as well as the developer community," Bryan said. "We can bring together the technical talent with our China team in Beijing together with ecosystem partners and spread the knowledge about the goodness of Power for Linux."