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Linux Support for Applications Offers a Compelling Advantage


The benefits of the Linux* OS are well known yet frequently debated and refined. It’s stable, built for multiple users and supported for virtualization, which is important to businesses as a cost-saving technology. The OS also has great connectivity capabilities and works well in diverse environments supporting hardware and software from IBM, Microsoft*, Apple and many others. Accordingly, it continues to develop and grow. Because it’s open, you can use Linux as is or change it, yet it’s highly standardized—a seemingly contradictory statement.

Linux runs on an amazing number of devices, including servers, mainframes, supercomputers, desktops, laptops, gateways, routers, mobile phones, tablets, audio/video devices, embedded processors and system-on-chip integrated circuits. Some of its key features, as well as IBM platform support, are summarized in Figure 1.

IBM embraces and supports Linux on its major hardware platforms. On System z* and Power Systems* servers, for example, distributions from SUSE and Red Hat are featured, as many customers purchase support packages from these suppliers to manage their risk. Other distributions are also available. In addition to support on IBM hardware, extensive software backing is provided, offering a vital and compelling ecosystem. It includes many types of products that put Linux into action, such as database management, application servers, messaging, portals, software development and lifecycle management. Also included are systems, network and application management, human collaboration, business intelligence and data warehousing, and a variety of industry-specific solutions. Table 1 shows this software support, with a few examples, from Power Systems and System z platforms.

Analyzing applications is important in evaluating the OS’s capability to meet the needs of a diverse community of users. Over the years, Linux has grown from a good value to a great one, in large part because its support for applications in the marketplace is strong.

Each Role Defines ‘Application’ Differently

The term “application” seems straightforward enough, but its meaning varies depending on the point of view:

  • The manager in a line of business (LOB), like production planning for example, might define application as a collection of programs that supports the creation of goods sold by a company.
  • An application developer might view it as software that enables the writing of programs that integrate data from different sources and use the data in business-process automation.
  • For a system programmer or technology specialist supporting a company’s infrastructure and software, an application might include systems and network management tools, security software or database utilities.

LOB Managers

LOB application software on Linux generally falls under one of two categories—by function or by industry. One example of a by-function software package that runs on Linux is ERP software from SAP. Various services are available from IBM and other companies to help implement SAP on Linux. SAP offers modules for finance, human resources, IT, manufacturing, marketing, procurement, R&D, engineering, sales, service, supply chain and sustainability. 

Additionally, application software supporting many industries runs on Linux and is tested to operate on IBM platforms. One such application in the healthcare industry is OpenEMR, a certified electronic health records and medical practice management application. It features fully integrated electronic health records, practice management, scheduling and electronic billing. A financial services example is FlexImage, which handles electronic management of documents. Developed specifically for the financial market, it handles such diverse functions as check guards, opening of accounts, loans, etc.

Joseph Gulla is the IT leader of Alazar Press, an imprint of Royal Swan Enterprises. Previously, he was an executive IT specialist at IBM ending his 28-year career with the company in August 2012.


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