Linux gains momentum

IBM is hoisting its Linux colours high at today’s show. In light of Thursday’s announcement of a massive Linux win with the Government of Bahrain, Big Blue is determined to convert more of the region’s user community to the open source operating system.

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By  Greg Wilson Published  October 18, 2003

IBM is hoisting its Linux colours high at today’s show. In light of Thursday’s announcement of a massive Linux win with the Government of Bahrain, Big Blue is determined to convert more of the region’s user community to the open source operating system.

“The time for Linux is now,” says Dr. Samer Shaar, general manager, IBM, Middle East, Egypt & Pakistan. “The market is driving demand for Linux solutions,” he adds.

The Government of Bahrain isn’t the only organisation to embrace Linux in the last 12 months. For instance, oil & gas giant Saudi Aramco has been operating a 1800-node Linux cluster to power its highly parallel computing environment for some time.

“More companies are turning to Linux. They realise that it offers significant [total cost of ownership] benefits, high availability and code portability,” says Dr Shaar.

IBM has been working vigorously to with local ISVs, channel partners, end users and universities to create an infrastructure
Linux gains momentum of local skills capable of sustaining widespread Linux deployment.

“We’re ready to take Linux to the market — we have all the elements. We have a full range of applications, national language support and proper skilled resources,” comments Dr. Shaar.

Vital in driving Linux forward in the Middle East has been the two year project to Arabise the Linux OS. Big Blue’s research & development facility in Egypt has been working with clients and partners to port and develop applications for Linux.

Big Blue has also invested heavily to build local Linux skills, by giving developers full access to its tools and code. Work to win the hearts and minds of the local development community has stretched to the local universities.

Currently, IBM is operating workforce development schemes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan.

“We’re planning to put similar plans in place, here in the UAE,” says Dr. Shaar.

IBM has also turned its educational focus on to its own channel apparatus. “We are certifying partners and helping local partners to develop solutions,” adds Dr Shaar.

A Linux-savvy channel is vital as IBM looks to extend the influence of the Unix-like operating system into the small to medium business market (SMB).

According to Dr. Shaar, Linux is perfectly suited to the ultra-cost conscious low end of the market. To cater to mass market, IBM is working with its local partners to create packaged solutions. C3-1

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