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IBM's Power Architecture Attracting More Linux Developers

IBM, once a bastion of proprietary mainframe technology, says efforts to entice developers to create open source applications for servers based on its Power chip architecture are paying off as the number of Linux-on-Power programs has more than doubled over the past two years.

IBM says there are now more than 2,500 Linux applications available for its Power-based pSeries, iSeries, and BladeCenter servers. The company announced the most recent on Friday -- a Linux program developed by Sybase that extends corporate applications to mobile devices.

Sybase Unwired Accelerator gives mobile professionals real-time access to corporate data stored in ERP systems and other enterprise applications, IBM says.

IBM officials credit much of the increase in the number of Linux applications available for Power-based systems to an initiative it launched two years ago called Chiphopper, under which x86 developers received technical and marketing assistance when porting their apps to Power. "The idea was to make that simpler and we've seen the results," says Adam Jollans, IBM's open source marketing manager.

IBM makes less revenue on servers sold with Linux, compared to those that ship with one if its commercial operating systems -- such as AIX or OS 400 -- but that's offset by the company's growing Linux support practice. Linux compatibility also makes the company's servers accessible to a wider variety of users, such as educational institutions on limited budgets. "We benefit from the wider ecosystem that Linux is a part of," says Jollans.

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