IBM: Innovation is the key driver for CIOs, not Cost

amcpherson's picture

Last week at LinuxCon, we presented a lot of great content for business leaders in the world of Linux and open source. (Al Gillen of IDC, Jeffrey Hammond of Forester, among others.). One of my favorite sessions was from Jean Staten Healy, Director of IBM Worldwide Linux Strategy who looked at Linux in the minds of CIOs and how it’s changed.

Remember ten years ago, IBM made a $1 billion bet on Linux, and in so doing, helped create the momentum for Linux in the enterprise data
center that we all enjoy today.  Back then, IBM concentrated on three areas:

- Making Linux better – providing contributions to help improve Linux with respect to reliability, availability and serviceability

- Enabling IBM products – both across major server lines and throughout the IBM middleware portfolio

- Extending Linux into new opportunity areas – Helping to expanding the total addressable market for Linux (e.g. Real-Time, HPC, SoNAS)

Jean shared data from IBM’s 2009 Global CIO study. The survey had over 2,500 interviews of CIOs worldwide spanning 78 countries and 19 industries. Some interesting findings:

– Today’s CIO spend 55% of their time on activities that spur innovation

– The remaining 45% of their time is spent on essential, more traditional tasks related to managing IT

– Cost effectiveness was at the top of the CIO list for much of the last decade of Linux, but that is no longer the primary driver for today’s CIO in their adoption of Linux.

– They are choosing Linux for strategic reasons: they see Linux as helping them keep up with demand and be flexible and nimble. This trumps cost. It’s about time to value and innovation now.

– Linux’ virtualization capabilities and inherent flexibility are helping CIOs get the most out of their existing IT investments.

The questions CIOs are now asking: “How fast can I get this deployed? Will it grow with me as my business changes? Can I find talent for
this platform?”

This is good news for Linux. I’ve always tried to downplay the role of cost as a driver for Linux adoption. Cost certainly matters but it’s not the
end game. I’m pleased to see IBM’s data back up our assumption that Linux is helping CIOs and companies remain nimble, deliver faster time
to value and get the most out of their existing investments. Innovation is the driver in the minds of CIOs now, and Linux is well positioned ten years after IBM’s $1 billion bet.