Linux Competency Centre open for use
The idea behind the LCC is to offer businesses who are considering switching to Linux an opportunity to test their systems without having to disrupt their own operations. Having partnered with Wits, the facility is also available for academic research. IBM has set up 20 such LCCs around the world, but it is only in South Africa that they offer the facility to non-corporates.
Joe Ruthven, IBM’s business development manager for Linux and OSS, explained in his presentation that the centre serves a dual function for IBM. It serves as an opportunity to showcase their equipment to prospective clients while at the same time fulfilling a social responsibility function through the incorporation of academic research and software development.
The resources available at the LCC include an IBM eServer BladeCentre, Intel and Power Blades, IBM eServer xSeries, IBM eServer OpenPower and access to an IBM eServer zSeries in germany. The systems operate on RedHat and SuSE Linux and the entire portfolio of IBM middleware as well as solutions from SAP and Novell are available for use.
Although the event was billed as a launch, the centre has already been running for a year, with another centre based at the University of Cape Town.
The centre’s services are free of charge. At present there is plenty of extra capacity. Projects running at the LCC vary depending on the project’s needs. On average most projects last one to two weeks, however some research projects are running on a 6 month basis with an option for later renewal.
Prof. Scott Hazelhorst presented a case study on Bioinformatics. Using the example of genetics, he showed how even though they deal with conceptually simple mathematical problems, the vast quantity of data to be processed can take up enormous amounts of time. Using standard desktop processors, some problems can take up to three months to calculate. In cases like this, access to the powerful processing power of the LCC’s servers is of enormous benefit.
People wishing to use this facility can download an application template from the IBM site here.