IBM TO OPEN LINUX COMPETENCY CENTRE IN SOUTH AFRICA
IBM South Africa is putting the final touches to plans for a South Africa based Linux competency centre and hopes to open for business before the end of the year. This is according to Joe Ruthven, IBM SA's newly appointed business development manager for Linux and open source software. Ruthven says the competency centre is intended to be both a showcase of existing open source and Linux solutions as well as providing a platform for producing proof of concept solutions for a range of industry sectors. "The centre will allow users to see Linux and open source in action in an effort to make customers aware of the possibilities of Linux and open source software."
The centre, which will be modelled on many of the company's existing competency centres such as those in New York and Moscow, and will be equipped with a selection of IBM hardware and software so users can test their applications on Linux and learn how open source software could help their businesses.
"The centre will not be situated at IBM itself because we want it to cater for and be accessible to a number of different sectors," says Ruthven. He says the centre will not only showcase IBM solutions but will also look to showcase other solutions from the university, government and ISV communities as well. "We want to make sure the community is involved in the project. Particularly the universities and ISVs so we build a better idea of how the various solutions interlock to provide answers to new challenges," he says.
IBM already has around 20 competency centres established around the world. The company also has a number of Linux integration centres around the world that build new solutions and products for the Linux operating system.
Ruthven says that his own appointment and the plans for a local Linux competency centre signal a renewed commitment from IBM to open source software and Linux in particular. He says that although the company globally has committed more than US$2 billion to the ongoing development of Linux and and open source it has of late been overshadowed by louder Linxu advocates, most notably Novell which has re-enginnering itself to become a player in the open source market.
"IBM has always been committed to Linux and we still have more tha 250 programmers employed full time to develop Linux solutions and improvements. But now we need to tell the world what we are doing." This is a role that in South Africa falls to Ruthven who sees as one of his primary objectives the task of collecting and co-ordinating the company's Linux success stories and strategies - and comunicating these to customers and to the media. "Each division of IBM has a Linux compenent. My role is to co-ordinate these."
Ruthven's role is made a little easier by the fact that IBM is actually doing a lot of work in this area and has over the past couple of weeks made a number of significant contributions to the open source communtiy. In particular the recent donation of the Cloudscape database to the Apache Foundation under the name Derby, and the announcement of a new Eclipse development package for Linux.