Opening Up

IBM sees open-source alternatives as key to IT innovation.

IBM sees open-source alternatives as key to IT innovation.

IBM's commitment to open-source software and open standards isn't new - the company has been promoting offerings such as Linux* for years. However, with the new IBM* Systems Agenda unveiled in 2005 comes a renewed commitment to openness, making significant investments in development communities and creating a broad portfolio of systems incorporating open-source applications and open standards into their design.

The goal of openness is to build an application portfolio that promotes increased flexibility, interoperability, scalability and choice when it comes to building an IT infrastructure, rather than the "one-size-fits-all" vendor models, which are often inflexible when it comes to future growth and general IT direction changes.

As a component of openness, a commitment to open source, standards-based solutions and initiatives allows customers to more easily and seamlessly integrate technology and systems into their existing environments. Because customers often need to leverage their existing investments and often lack the manpower and personnel to deal with introducing new technologies, disruptions may occur. Openness can help customers deal more effectively with disruptions.

Open Source and Linux

As its name implies, open source means opening up software source code - either completely or specific segments of it - so that it can be accessed and altered by others.

The most obvious example of this sort of application development is the evolution of Linux, an operating system (OS) created by Linus Torvalds, who put his creation out for general consumption as an open-source development project on the Internet in 1991. Since then, thousands of Linux enthusiasts have built on that original creation, and the Linux versions available today are a result of a worldwide collaborative effort to improve and customize the OS.

Linux development was for many years considered an interesting - but mostly fringe - phenomenon that wasn't yet "ready for prime time," particularly when matched up against the Microsoft* Windows* OS offerings. It wasn't until companies such as IBM started looking at Linux as a viable OS for powering business servers and storage arrays that it really started to come into its own.

"We've learned a lot about the benefits of open-source software and how those benefits tie in when used in conjunction with proprietary software." -Adam Jollans, IBM software worldwide Linux marketing strategy manager

Ryan Rhodes is a freelance writer for IBM Systems Magazine.

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