Africa\'s first Linux competency centre launched

By   |  March 17, 2005

A plethora of partners, led by IBM, launched Africa\’s first Linux competency centre 15 March in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The centre is aimed at promoting Linux in the enterprise, and is expected to have an influence on government, academia and smaller business. It will also be used as a testing ground for local software developers.

\”Many of our customers are serious about Linux, but they don\’t always have the resources to get going with Linux-related projects. This centre offers customers a physical environment populated with a comprehensive variety of IBM hardware and software platforms on which they can run performance checks, proofs of concepts, and any other tests necessary before embarking on a project. It\’s a kick-start,\” says Joe Ruthvern, IBM SA\’s Linux and OSS business development manager.

One IBM customer – a major South African bank – has already taken the opportunity to test a proof of concept based on SuSE Linux.

Novell, Obsidian and SAP are supporting the centre.

The centre is to be housed at the University of Witwatersrand, although it is still currently based at IBM\’s headquarters in Sandton. According to Barry Dwolatzky of Wits University, the centre will form a hub of post-graduate work spanning the university\’s computer science, engineering and commerce divisions.

The centre will fall under the mantle of the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering, a larger project expected to launch next year. \”It will be a buzz of activity,\” promises Dwolatzky, with lectures, degree programmes and events taking place at the centre.

The City of Johannesburg is also supporting the project, as part of its \”Johannesburg 2030\” campaign, which identified ICT as a primary sector for development. According to David van Niekerk, representing the City of Johannesburg, the centre will drive business competitiveness by cutting costs, increasing return on investment and creating new business opportunities. \”I believe that this project does all that, especially for black-owned firms, smaller firms and female-owned firms,\” he said.

The centre features 12 Intel blade servers configured for two- to eight-way processing, PowerPC-based blade servers, and even access to a Z-series IBM mainframe (which will remain at IBM\’s headquarters in Sandton). In addition a terabyte of storage will be used to store configured solutions. Currently there is no load testing, although this is available to customers in IBM\’s other centres in Europe.

A second centre is planned for Cape Town in partnership with the University of Cape Town, with a similar structure but on a smaller scale.

Carol Stafford, IBM\’s president of worldwide Linux sales, hinted that the centre could form part of a local grid computing project.

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