UPDATE: Linux a lovely little earner for IBM

Editor's note: Updated with new numbers from IBM

IBM’s business built around Linux is growing rapidly, says the company’s global head of public sector Linux sales, Mary Ann Fisher. Overall, IDC suggests the Linux marketplace is growing annually at 26% and is expected to reach US$35.7 billion by 2008

“Governments worldwide are spending more than US$3 billion a year on Linux hardware, software and services,” she says. “But it’s the US military that's among those spending the most. They view it as a source of innovation.”

Fisher, a 26-year IBM veteran, was in New Zealand recently to speak at a seminar organised by GOVIS, the organisation for government IT managers.

“Governments are saving taxpayer money by leveraging open standards,” she says.

She is emphatic about IBM’s commitment to Linux in particular and open source generally. “We have 600 engineers dedicated to Linux,” with up to 7,000 on hand if needed.

IBM’s whole vision is to provide the best infrastructure that embraces open systems, she says.

“The only value in IT is what it does for people, and technology is evolving faster than we can imagine it. So the faster we deliver the quicker the innovators can be rewarded. It’s a race against time for IT to be valuable in the market.

“We want to provide that infrastructure to deliver.”

According to Gartner research, IBM now ranks number one in overall Linux-based server revenue worldwide with 29.7% of the revenue, up 32% year on year.

“I was responsible for the start-up phase in the public sector. Last year, I decided to focus on global government, working with governments in open source and Linux.”

Things like TCP/IP, Apache and Linux are rock-solid open source technologies, she says.

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