IBM's business built around Linux was worth US$16 billion last year and is projected to be worth more than US$50 billion, says the company's global head of public sector Linux sales, Mary Ann Fisher.
"Governments worldwide are spending more than US$3 billion a year on Linux hardware, software and services, and this is growing at 35% a year," she says. "But it's the US military that is spending the most. They view it as a source of innovation."
Fisher, a 26-year IBM veteran, was in New Zealand recently to speak at a seminar organised by GOVIS, the organisation for government IT managers.
"Governments are saving taxpayer money by leveraging open standards," she says.
She is emphatic about IBM's commitment to Linux in particular and open source generally. "We have 15,000 engineers dedicated to Linux, and 10,000 services people. There are 30,000 staff running a Linux pilot on the desktop."
IBM's whole vision is to provide the best infrastructure that embraces open systems, she says.
"The only value in IT is what it does for people, and technology is evolving faster than we can imagine it. So the faster we deliver the quicker the innovators can be rewarded. It's a race against time for IT to be valuable in the market.
"We want to provide that infrastructure to deliver."
"I was responsible for the start-up phase in the public sector. Last year, I decided to focus on global government, working with governments in open source and Linux."
Things like TCP/IP, Apache and Linux are rock-solid open source technologies, she says.