Linux is Central to Computing Today and for the Future

Linux is at the center of computing now as well as computing that is being built for the future, emphasized Bob Sutor, vice president of Open Source and Linux, IBM, in his Monday keynote address at the first annual LinuxCon in Portland, Oregon, hosted by the Linux Foundation.

In his talk, Sutor spotlighted three key areas of opportunity as well as challenge for Linux-the emerging market for cloud computing, Linux as an important operating system for mainframes, and the potential offered by Linux on the desktop.

As Linux has evolved, it has kept ahead of users' and developers' needs over the last 18 years, said Sutor. As the great new challenges arise in the IT industry, it is not an accident that Linux just happens to support the next generation of computers, he emphasized. "It's the way Linux has evolved and I think will continue to evolve."

Focusing on the ability of Linux to support cloud computing, Sutor noted that Linux supports multiple hardware platforms; Linux has an affinity with virtualization and is supported on all major hypervisors. "Without virtualization, cloud is dead," said Sutor. It also offers other advantages such as being modular and customizable with flexible usage licensing; and is developed by an open community.

Sutor also highlighted capabilities of the mainframe that complement those of Linux, "which is why so many people are running Linux on mainframes for many of the big banks of the world." People are using Linux on the mainframe for reasons including high utilization, which often exceeds 90%, the manageability of centralized Linux systems, ability to support high performance transaction processing and ability to support I/O intensive workloads. The advantages of the mainframe complement Linux, but also cloud user requirements as well, he added.

As far as Linux on the desktop, an attempt to make it a drop-in replacement for the dominant desktop operating system is not a viable strategy, said Sutor. The Linux desktop has to find its niche for what it does really well at what price point, for which people, he noted. The enterprise sweet spot for Linux desktops is virtualized Linux desktops, and a focus on usability, stability security, reliability, performance "with some cool thrown in, too."

There is a tremendous amount of reevaluation from customers about due to concerns about who is buying whom and what will happen to their assets, observed Sutor. "This is the time to press, to accelerate your compound annual growth rate."

Sutor concluded his talk by stating that, as IBM thinks about the new areas of business which it goes into, Linux is very much central. Whether it is mainframes, the future of the desktop, or cloud computing, "Linux needs to and will be a major component of that."

For more information about the Linux Foundation, go here.