IBM takes Linux message to Wall Street

IBM Thursday announced plans to open a technology center in New York City devoted to encouraging financial services companies to deploy Linux.

IBM's Linux Center of Competence will get its start with a US$1 million investment from IBM. The Madison Avenue center, which is scheduled to open in September, will provide hands-on access to hardware, software and services from IBM and its partners.

Prospective Linux users will be able to test applications running on the open source operating system and take advantage of training programs and technical expertise. Today IBM has 40 customers in the financial services industry that are using its Linux products, roughly half of which have a presence in Manhattan.

Rich Michos, vice president of Linux servers at IBM, says financial services customers have indicated they want to move off Sun's proprietary Solaris operating system to a more open, standards-based platform like Linux - which offers lower total-cost-of-ownership, more flexible application migration options, and improved price/performance over time, he says.

IBM hopes to encourage that transition by providing hardware, software and skills in close proximity to financial services customers so they can try before they buy. "They can pretty much start to prototype the environment that they want to run, with our help and our resources," Michos says.

The showroom will provide opportunities to test Linux running on IBM's entire eServer product line, including its xSeries systems and zSeries mainframes, combined with IBM's TotalStorage products and middleware software. IBM's middleware line includes its WebSphere infrastructure software, Lotus collaboration software, Tivoli Systems Inc. management software and DB2 database software.

IBM business partners including J.D. Edwards & Co., SunGard Data Systems, Sybase and Veritas Software also will provide software for the testing environment.

One of these partners, software maker J.D. Edwards, just last week announced plans for its first Linux-based offering. J.D. Edwards is partnering with IBM to provide customer relationship management (CRM) software on a Linux platform, initially aimed at the financial services industry. The platform includes IBM's DB2 database and WebSphere Application Server software for Linux running on the IBM's eServer xSeries.