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IBM and Linux Advancing the Open Source Revolution

“I’ve felt strongly that the advantage of Linux is that it doesn’t have a niche or any special market, but that different individuals and companies end up pushing it in the direction they want…” Linus Torvalds

The wisdom of Linus Torvalds and the magic of the Linux experience he created more than 20 years ago is rooted in a visionary commitment to openness and collaboration that has pushed the boundaries of innovation and transformed whole industries.

For two decades now, Linux has played a major role in a transformation in information technology that has taken us to the brink of a new era, driven by three major disruptors – big data, cloud and analytics.

Perhaps the greatest impact Linux has had on my company and the information technology industry over the past two decades is the way it has spurred so much innovation through building strong, open ecosystems.

Linux and the growing open source community are demonstrating the value of the collaborative business model. It is clear that no one company alone can spark the magnitude or diversity of the type of innovation we are going to need to keep pace with the rapid changes occurring in the digital/mobile era.

The partnership of IBM and Linux is a great example. Through its commitment to open source technology and an expansive ecosystem of partners, Linux has become the fastest growing operating system in the world, an engine of community innovation and a key part of the enterprise IT infrastructure. As a result, the market for Linux servers, applications, software and operating systems surpassed $57 billion in 2014, almost doubling in the past five years, according to IDC.


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For more than 50 years the mainframe has served as the backbone of the global economy. More than half of the world’s transactions run on the mainframe due to its reliability and ultra-secure environment. It now powers 92 of the top 100 banks and 23 of the top 25 airlines around the world. Since being introduced to the mainframe 15 years ago, demand for Linux on the mainframe has grown dramatically, with more than one third of all mainframe clients now using Linux.

But the world is shifting. The mobile world and new app economy are changing the game for businesses, industries and society at large, creating new requirements and expectations that must be addressed. And also creating new opportunities to innovate and differentiate.

In a world where consumer expectations continue to grow, clients demand:

• Delivery at speed with lightning-fast response times, all the time
• Access anytime, anywhere, and from any device, no matter how many users or transactions
• Security for trusted engagement, with personalization through analytics
• And new levels of IT efficiency and agility through cloud for responsiveness

It is clear, we need to take Linux to the next level where it can fully support the future of high-volume, business-critical applications. That is the goal of IBM LinuxONE, a new family of enterprise-grade Linux systems and solutions that combines the flexibility and agility of the open source revolution with the most advanced high-performance engine that underpins enterprise IT. The line of systems provides the capabilities companies need to quickly react to market demands and customer requirements even as volumes increase. It provides unmatched availability to ensure critical systems continue running under any situation. And it provides the most secure Linux system, giving consumers the protection they expect for their data and transactions.

We’ve also dramatically expanded the set of open source software and tools that run on IBM z Systems, providing developers with more flexibility and enabling the development of IT applications with new levels of speed, scale and security. And, because we know that open collaboration across academic, government and corporate partners is key to the advancement of technology, we’re contributing the single largest amount of mainframe code to the open source community and taking additional steps to bolster our already strong commitment to open source innovation. Taken together, all of this represents a quantum leap in open source innovation and a game-changer for the industry.

The growing successes of Linux and the introduction of the LinuxONE portfolio prove the marriage of business-model innovation with technology innovation results in unparalleled choice, freedom and superior performance demanded by businesses and individuals around the world. It is clear, the future belongs to open, flexible, customized, cloud-capable and big data-ready IT systems. Strong, open ecosystems will take us there.