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LinuxWorld: Linux will loosen apps stranglehold

Open-source technologies will loosen proprietary technologies' iron grip on large IT departments, said IBM executive William Zeitler at the LinuxWorld conference in New York.

"Over the past 30 or 40 years, IT has established control points around certain technologies and funnelled innovations through those control points. But in today's open-source world, there are no control points for innovation, and that is making a profound difference," said Zeitler, senior vice-president of IBM's server group.

Zeitler said the days of vendors using proprietary platforms to control technologies and customers are over. Open-source computing, he said, will be what shapes corporate IT strategies.

"The Internet began as a platform [for] communicating, but going forward it will evolve into a platform for computing - grid computing," Zeitler said. "Those vendors not aligned with that community will be on the wrong side of history," he added.

Zeitler said he sees a world in which open grid computing will connect a wide variety of resources over the Internet and make possible computing on tap, or e-business on demand.

IBM's global grid strategies will merge with Project eLiza, the company's initiative to produce a range of self-managing, self-healing, and self-optimising infrastructure level products during the next few years, Zeitler said.

"About 18 months ago we were working with our Advanced e-Business Council, shaping the strategy for Project eLiza around the same time the first Global Grid white paper was being written. We were attacking the problem of how to intelligently get more storage and capacity, and they were looking at doing that through the grid," Zeitler said.

Zeitler said a second paper due next month will spell out key protocols for Grid Computing that will help developers and users accelerate the creation of applications that best take advantage of the grid.

Most of the proposed protocols will centre on security, authentication, identification, and collaboration, according to Irving Wladawsky-Berger, IBM's vice president of technology and strategy.

Although Zeitler expects it to take some time before companies will collaborate on grid computing projects, but he said, "I think you will see many grid projects start internally and be run by ISPs."

IBM is working on toolkits that will allow both Linux and AIX users to "grid-enable" their applications.

IBM has aggressively continued its four-year Linux and open-source strategies, according to Zeitler. The company now has 2,500 Linux customers worldwide.

Following Zeitler's speech, IBM announced that E-Trade would migrate its Sun servers to IBM's eServer xSeries environment running Linux. E-Trade officials said what helped them decide to switch was the IBM systems' ability to provide about three times the user capacity of the company's existing infrastructure products.

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