IBM's Linux push will help increase the credibility of Linux in the enterprise sector.
IBM sees an opportunity--as it did with Unix in the 1980s--whereby it can be a leader and a driving force of new applications in the evolving next-generation Internet ecosystem. IBM does not want to be perceived as sitting on its hands and letting other firms grab the initiative, as Sun Microsystems ended up doing with Unix.
But the Linux movement is fraught with potential hazards if companies such as IBM act too hastily. For example, the lack of standards, frequent releases, and variety of Linux distributions on Intel and various RISC implementations will increase the complexity of support.
Accordingly, enterprises must be cautious about which vendors and products they bet on. Failures among Linux companies could have strong ramifications and may put the onus on IBM and other system sellers to contribute technically and financially to the well-being of the Linux community.
To determine the long-term role of Linux in enterprise computing, the industry must wait for further evidence of IBM's willingness and sincerity to launch a full-scale Linux commitment.
In particular, IBM must determine how Linux will affect Project Monterey--i.e., AIX for Intel and PowerPC--IBM's declared mainstream enterprise Unix strategy.
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