IBM is signalling a move away from Unix support and towards a full embrace of Linux, announcing today at LinuxCon in New Orleans that it plans to funnel $1 billion USD on the open source operating system for newer servers, reports Howard Solomon at our sister publication IT World Canada.

The funds will go to support IBM customers relying on legacy applications running on Unix-powered servers who need to adapt to the new Linux servers running on Power processors (appropriately dubbed PowerLinux). IBM is hoping that the servers will be adopted by Internet and managed service providers as well as those looking for servers to run big data applications.

IBM will biuld a data centre in France that will help European firms port their applications. It plans an additional 11 regional centres, of which there are already two in the U.S. and one in China that provide Power servers and tools that can convert applications. Or customers can use IBM’s Virtual Loaner Program to do the porting via an online service.

One analyst is describing the investment by IBM as a major disruptor in the CPU space. IBM’s move will move the industry towards an information as commodity model and is in line with what enterprises want, according to Terry Keene, CEO of technology consultant firm iSys.

“Linus on Power 8 will set a new bar for enterprise Linux,” he says. “A bar that Intel will not be able to meet with their attention focused on ARM and repairing Intel’s volume chip business which is suffering form mobile onslaught.”

Today IBM Power System servers run on Power7+ processors which can handle PowerLinux as well as AIX, i5 and AS/400. But as a sign of how the market was developing last year IBM brought out two Linux-only Power servers, the 7R1 single socket and 7R2 dual socket servers. This year it added the 7R4 four-socket server.

Click through to Solomon’s detailed article that recounts the history of Linux and its growth through various computer architectures, fueled by IBM’s investment.