IBM today announced the opening of its ninth Linux competency centre, designed to help companies in the financial sector investigate, plan and undertake migration to the Linux platform.

Located on the Southbank of the Thames close to the square mile, IBM hopes to tempt city firms to move their servers and key applications over to the open source platform, by demonstrating to them the cash saving and efficiency improvements it can bring.

Linux Sales Manager David Valentine claimed that centres like the Southbank one put IBM in a unique position in the Linux market. “Linux is full of people with the knowledge to do it for themselves,” he said, “but fewer with the wisdom to help others.”

The facility includes meeting and presentation rooms, plus a “demonstration room/sandpit” kitted out with mainframes, servers and desktops, which can be configured according to individual clients’ needs.

According to Adam Jollans, worldwide Linux marketing strategy manager, IBM is approaching the sector on an application-by-application basis, finding the areas of financial operations where the platform can bring the most profits to customers and then helping them leverage it.

A spokesman in the centre itself said it was already taking bookings from companies eager to bring their application portfolios along to see how they might be migrated. The centre will also run themed days, inviting firms in the sector to come and see certain applications run on the platform.

“We are already seeing a huge uptake of Linux among firms in this sector,” said Valentine, “but many of them are unwilling to be referenced by us due to the huge competitive advantage they have gained through the platform.”

Jollans added that IBM felt it could offer considerable gains on any area of business in the sector through Linux. “We’re in a position where we can go in [to potential customers] and say, whatever [system] you’re using, we’re going to be able to do something pretty spectacular.”