IBM builds a Linux competency center in Rawalpindi

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Microsoft did one thing right when they came to Pakistan several years ago : They established good links with the education sector, gave away free software to the teachers and the students, offered 80% discounts on everything if you had a university ID card and made sure that kids graduating from college knew more about MS technologies (VC++, Windows server, SQL server) than the more traditional Unix, Java, Oracle and DB2 stuff. Then they built a Microsoft excellency center, ie a lab where companies can come and play with MS solutions and software. Read on to see how the other players are responding.

How has that helped? Every other ISV now works in MS technologies. More products and services locally are built on MS technologies. So what happens? The seed MS sowed years ago pays off and their sales skyrocket. Everyone wants Windows OS licenses , sql server licenses, msdn subscriptions. If its not MS, then its Java Tomcat and mySql. Not many are as yet using websphere, db2 and/or Oracle. So what happens to the other players? ie Oracle and IBM? they sit out the party. Until now.

IBM always knew it had to do something about MS’s ‘get-em-while-they’re young’ strategy but for some reason was not able to allocate the marketing dollars.  But now, according to their website, they have build and given away a Linux lab teeming with IBM hardware and software for students and teachers to play with and get trained on. The NUST Institute of Information Technology (NIIT), Rawalpindi gets the honor of hosting the lab.

Why not FAST , LUMS (a big linux user) or GIK? I dont know, maybe these graduates stay in Pakistan longer and given that they are in the north, will work in government, where Linux is a relatively easier road to riches. And Islamabad, for all those not in the know, is the new hotbed of IT tenders. The government is really spending this year, which means HR is short, and it wouldnt hurt if that HR learns Linux and websphere first on an IBM pSeries box and holds it closer to the heart than a teen weeny Intel box running Windows.

All in all, besides the sales and obvious commercial longterm benefits of giving away tools for kids to learn and educated themselves with, it is much appreciated that IBM is now into doing such things. More Linux centers must open up, in Karachi and Lahore, so IBM, thank you and please dont stop with ISB/RWP! Press Release below:

http://www.ibm.com/news/pk/en/2007/06/news_06Jun2007.html

On a personal note: At UT Austin we were taught mostly on Solaris systems, MACs and then PCs. Sun and Apple follow a very similar strategy in the US as MS does in Pakistan. I cringed at the fact that I had to code on a PC with Windows when I returned. Good Job on the marketing bit, MS. Im sure the piracy helps alot too 😉

Thank you Sameer for forwarding me the link that led to the rambling above!

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5 thoughts on “IBM builds a Linux competency center in Rawalpindi

  1. farzal

    but in Austin the MS software was available for 5 dollars a pop. but even then during junior and senior years we had to mainly use the linux labs.

    so the universities can create a culture independent of MS get-em-while-they-are-young strategy

  2. Syed Talha Izhar

    But Don’t you think that IBM’s initiative in building the Linux competency center came as a response to the Microsoft Innovation Center (2nd in the World I guess!!) established at FAST Karachi City Campus?

    Infact, as I visited the City Campus last time, under the MIC banner there were students working on different sorts of research projects based on MS technologies and the students are pretty enthusiastic about being a part of MIC.

    Its just my opinion.what do you say?

  3. Badar Ahmed

    I am from NIIT, where IBM has recently funded this linux competency center.
    NIIT is at par with GIKI, LUMS & FAST, in fact some high profile research work which is nowhere to be seen in Pakistan is being carried out in NIIT. Here undergraduate students are taking part in research, in fields like Grid Computing.
    Just a heads up, NIIT has also got a High Performance Computing lab with Sun Microsystem high-end servers & workstations, alongwith research in the field of high performance computing.
    You can visit NIIT website @ http://www.niit.edu.pk . I hope u will be pleasantly surprised with research work being done at NIIT.
    (Sorry for shameless publicity, just wanted to say NIIT is as good candidate for such a center).
    Despite of these facilities, the biggest problem that i see though is the dwindling batch sizes in CS/IT department. Just 2 batches before us had a size of about 100. Now unfortunately it is somewhere b/w 20 – 30 with new batches. I know this is same problem with other CS departments around Pakistan.
    Anyways i hope that as many people can benefit from it as possible.

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