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Project Monterey: Still alive, but is it kicking?

Years ago, IBM and others major industry players, such as The Santa Cruz Operation and Compaq Computer Corp., started Project Monterey to find a common Unix. Now that Linux is making waves in the IT world, Big Blue has used the open source Unix cousin to help achieve Monterey's mission.

The result is the recently announced AIX 5L. Though still IBM's proprietary Unix, the operating system has a stronger affinity to Linux than past versions. AIX will be more Linux friendly easing the transition of applications between the systems. Furthermore, applications developed on Linux will run on AIX.

This almost ying-yang relationship between Linux and AIX will strengthen both operating systems, IBM contends. Ultimately this synergy should enrich Linux and benefit people running it on all platforms including the S/390 and AS/400.

"Linux represents a paradigm shift. A changing of the rules of the game," said Deepak Advani, IBM's director of Unix strategy. "We are very committed to bringing Linux to all our platforms."

This is good news for AS/400 users on a couple of levels. First, Unix has been jockeyed around as a potential migration path for users should IBM decide to discontinue its support of the machine. IBM is bringing Linux to the AS/400 next year perhaps streamlining a potential transition to Unix. However, the sheer fact that IBM is adding Linux elements to its own, highly-rated Unix shows IBM is committed to the open source operating system. Users have said that by bringing Linux to the AS/400, IBM has given them confidence in the future of the box.

Recently, Edward Hurley, assistant news editor spoke with Advani about Big Blue's Unix strategy including the relationship it has with AIX and Linux.

Hurley:AIX runs on the RS/6000 but Linux has been gaining popularity on the S/390. How does IBM's larger Unix strategy affect S/390 users?

Advani:Linux really is at the strategic core of our Unix strategy and so far the acceptance of it on the System 390 has been very, very positive. Today someone may use the S/390 for their backend database but on the front end use Linux Web applications. We hope to consolidate Linux applications on the S/390. Overall what strengthens Linux is good for S/390 professionals and our customers.

Hurley:What improvements to AIX did Project Monterey spawn? I understand the "L" in the name represents its affinity to Linux.

Advani:We were able to infuse AIX with technology from DYNIX/ptx and UnixWare. We also partnered with Intel, SCO and Compaq. We will license the operating system to them and all of them are still in place.

I think some people thought the resulting operating system would be called "Monterey" but AIX was always the base operating system for the project.

Hurley:How does Linux and AIX fit into IBM's Unix strategy?

Advanti:AIX is the best operating system in the world for mission critical and enterprise class applications. Linux is the best operating system in the world for low to midrange web serving. It's also a great low-cost development platform. We realize one size does not fit all so in essence our strategy is to leverage AIX and Linux for the best possibilities for our customers.

Hurley:So is IBM positing AIX for high-end applications and relegating Linux to lower end use?

Advani:The beauty of Linux is no single vendor can shape the future of it. No vendor can predict what it will be two or five years down the road. A lot has to do with perception. User A may be deploying it for enterprise uses today while another would say 'Nope, it's not ready yet I'm using a System 390 for mission critical operations because it is much more robust.'

Just recently (August 29), we announced we are partnering on a development lab for Linux. By testing developments on enterprise class hardware, we hope Linux's evolution will be accelerated.

Hurley:So will there be any overlap between Linux and AIX?

Advani:We think they really complement each other well. We will continue to work on AIX developing new features for the next turn of the crank.

We will also be working to help make Linux a tier- one application development platform. So if an application is developed on Linux it will be stable on both platforms.

When you take your business to the Web, all of a sudden it becomes 7 by 24 by 365 and worldwide. Businesses (on the Web) also tend to grow rather rapidly. So ultimately a business can move to AIX for its superior scalability and would be able to move (their Linux-based) applications pretty seemingly.

Hurley:So is the ultimate aim of IBM's Unix strategy to sell more servers?

Advani:I wouldn't put it that way. The overall strategy maximizes our middleware, services and our servers. Linux cuts across all of IBM. It's a great market for us to be in. But at the end of the day, what we need to do is give our customers what they really need, namely flexibility and choice.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Ed Hurley, assistant news editor

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