IBM has announced plans to invest $1bn in Linux and open-source technologies for the firm's Power Systems in a move to stake out territory in the data centre and hold back the tide against the growth of infrastructure based around commodity x86 server boxes.
Announced at the LinuxCon 2013 event in New Orleans, the IBM initiative includes a new Power Systems Linux Centre now open in Montpellier, France, to serve developers, clients and partners, plus an expansion of its Power Systems development cloud service.
The move follows the launch last month of the OpenPower Consortium, a partnership with firms such as Google and Nvidia to push the development of data centre infrastructure based on Power chips. As part of this, IBM offered to license the Power architecture to third parties building custom server solutions.
IBM said the Power Systems Linux Centre in France is the latest in a growing network of locations where developers can access resources to help in building applications targeting big data, cloud, mobile and social business computing, all with a focus on Linux and IBM's latest systems based on Power7+ processors.
The first centre opened in Beijing in May, with others located in New York and Austin, Texas, IBM said.
The firm also announced an expansion of its Power Systems cloud for development, saying it is ramping up the infrastructure in order to offer more businesses the facilities to build, port and test Linux applications on the Power platform at no charge.
IBM repeated its assertion that its Power architecture is better suited to the kind of scale-out server applications seen in data centres than the x86 servers currently driving most of them.
"Many companies are struggling to manage big data and cloud computing using commodity servers based on decades-old, PC-era technology. These servers are quickly overrun by data which triggers the purchase of more servers, creating unsustainable server sprawl," said Brad McCredie, vice president of power development and an IBM Fellow.
IBM is a major contributor to both Linux and open source, with Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, welcoming the latest investment from the IT giant.
However, some industry commentators expressed concern that the new focus on Linux could mean IBM is favouring the open-source platform to the detriment of its venerable AIX Unix platform.
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