IBM in trouble?
Since the invention of Power4 the story of IBM server business seems to be in a quite good condition. But somehow i have the dim feeling, that the scratches get deeper and more. It´s only speculative, but:
- IBM tries to position mainframes whereever they can. Do you remember the stories about Mainframes for India. Or the newest, even more ridiclious stuff: Mainframe as a game server. IBM runs with great speed into the nuclear submarine problem with the mainframe class machines.
- In summary AIX is some year behind Solaris and Linux (To anticipate the ever reoccuring evergreen in customer situations: No, booting from tape is no technical advancement, you have networks for that). And the ISV support for AIX isn´t really roaring outside IBM´s own software divisions. Look at the number of support programs for the newest AIX release and compare it with Linux or Solaris.
- In my opinion IBM´s offer for Linux on pSeries is driven exactly by the operating system shortage. But the rumour goes, that more people use Linux on mainframes than on pSeries. ISV support for Linux on Power? Outside of IBM? Not really a factor.
- I assume that the concept of offering an emulation layer to run x86 binaries on Linux for Power comes from this shortage of applications. But: "Supported on Linux x86" doesn´t mean "Supported on Linux x86 emulated on pSeries" (The whole Transitive hype forgets, that this emulation stuff solves only your migration challeges with self-breeded applications and software with deceased companies or developers,) . So this move doesn´t solve the ISV problem of Linux for pSeries.
The news of x86-emulation, mainframe game server and Linux on pSerie sounds cool when you look at every headline on it´s own. But the combination of the headline leaves room to speculation. After all: They have an excellent processor, but an rather timeworn operating system with decreasing ISV support. The alternative has even less support, and the solution of the problem has it´s own problem. I wouldn´t call it big trouble right now, but this are some cracks with potential in the base plate of IBM´s Unix server business. Finally even the <irony>legendary Power 6 processor running with 6 Ghz producing chill while needing only the power of a small dim red LED</irony> needs some application to run.