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Steering the Linux Course at IBM

The Ongoing Mission

  • September 17, 2007
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

The fact that Linux is big business for IBM should come as no surprise to those who follow Big Blue. During the last decade IBM has steadily ramped up its Linux efforts to the point where it has now become a core offering across IBM's server and software product lines.

Sitting at the helm of IBM's strategy pulpit on Linux is Inna Kuznetsova, who recently took over the role from long-time IBM Linux executive Scott Handy.

Kuznetsova spoke about her role at IBM, the challenges she faces and her view on Microsoft's patent allegations and GPL version 3.

Q: What is the difference between what you're now doing and what Scott Handy was doing for years?

I'm stepping into Scott's role. In a sense nothing has really changed. What has changed is how Linux is approached by IBM. Linux is a more important component today in the datacenter--what some analysts call the third generation of Linux. It's more than just Web server, but enterprises running their primary applications on Linux.

My mission is the same one that Scott had: to develop the overall strategy for IBM Linux and make sure that all the product groups incorporate Linux into their ongoing strategy and establishing the management system around it.

Making sure that every product group leverages Linux and we have cross-company momentum.

Q: What is your mandate in term of what IBM expects Linux to bring in financially?

We obviously set goals and measurements internally. We don't break down our server revenue by Linux.

Q: Are there any myths in the marketplace from your point of view about what IBM does or doesn't do with Linux?

I think IBM has a pretty stable reputation around Linux. What I think people can be surprised about is how far Linux goes into the heart of the datacenter.

Q: Is open source licensing a concern for you? Is GPLv3 something that you want IBM to adopt?

First of all we think that GPL version 3 is a good license. We participated and we appreciated the community process. We think it came a long way from its initial draft, and it's a very strong license.

In the big picture I don't think that GPL version 3 will replace version 2. I think we'll see product developed under both versions. I think we'll see IBM people participating in both GPLv2 and v3 projects. They'll probably just coexist in the market.

I think it's a good sign that we have the new license in the market. It signifies the maturity of Linux. Developers and companies will have a choice and choice is good.

Q: Does IBM have an official position regarding Microsoft's allegation about Linux/open source infringing on Microsoft's intellectual property?

First of all we think there is nothing new about Microsoft's claims. They haven't named a single patent and haven't engaged in any discussions showing a particular patent that was violated.

We think there is no need for any additional patent protection. We stand behind the open invention network for patent protection. We think it provides significant protection and we don't see a reason for our customers to worry.

We'll continue to partner with both Red Hat and Novell on Linux. I don't think that the Microsoft-Novell alliance has impacted our work with Novell. If it's good or bad for the Linux community, I think it's a good thing. If it helps to increase interoperability between Linux and Windows, then it provides great value to customers.

Q: What do you want to be known for? What is your biggest challenge?

I want IBM to stay the course. If you have a great strategy and the strategy is working sometimes, it is more difficult to stay the course and stay on strategy than going poking around.

I want IBM to stay on strategy and to continue to support the Linux community and development.

What I would like to see is more investment in Linux from our customers. I want to see a better acceptance of Linux and better recognition of what Linux can do from a security standpoint, from power management, systems management. It's not the same Linux that we had two or three years ago.

I want to shepherd this business into better acceptance of Linux.

This article originally appeared on internetnews.com, a JupiterWeb site.

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