IBM plans $100 million Linux investment

Cash infusion will expand Linux support across Workplace collaboration technology

IBM said Thursday that strong customer demand has prompted it to add $100 million to its budget for promoting its Workplace portfolio of collaboration and productivity software. The money will be spent over the next three years on ISV (independent software vendor) training and support programs, promotional activities with channel partners, marketing and technology centers.

The announcement was pegged to this week's LinuxWorld conference in Boston, but IBM spokesman Michael Shamrell said the new funds will not be limited to Linux-related activities. IBM choose to tie the announcement to the show because it sees Workplace's platform-agnostic architecture as an attractive option for Linux-focused ISVs and services firms, he said. IBM, which speaks frequently of its commitment to Linux, already makes most of its Workplace applications and server software available to run on Linux.

IBM first created its Workplace architecture in 2003 as a modular, Java-based foundation for future development in its Lotus line of collaboration applications. IBM now has 125 ISV partners focused on Workplace development, and an estimated 1,400 customers using the technology, Shamrell said.

IBM doesn't break out revenue from its Workplace line, but in a January conference call with analysts to discuss IBM's fourth-quarter financial results, Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge said revenue was up 5 percent over 2003's fourth quarter for Lotus, the unit that includes IBM's Workplace offerings.

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