IBM said that it was strengthening its partnership with Linux operating system vendors Red Hat and Novell on Wednesday, announcing it had added them to the company’s strategic alliance program. The partnership is expected to make the Linux buying experience simpler and easier for customers.
Customers have been asking for packaged deals where they can deal with one entity for both its hardware and software needs, IBM said. It is hoped that the agreement will strengthen the company’s position in Brazil, Russia, India, China and Korea by driving more open source deals in these developing markets.
“Six years ago we made a commitment to our customers around open source,” IBM’s general manager of Global Distribution Sales told reporters in a conference call Wednesday afternoon. “This is perhaps the most significant announcement for the program since we announced support for Linux.”
As part of the deal, IBM will now sell both Red Hat and Novell’s SUSE Linux installations alongside its servers. Also, for the first time, a dedicated sales force will be tasked with marketing the new options, IBM’s Linux and Open Source vice president Scott Handy said.
“This is a fast growing market. We see this market continuing to grow,” he added.
Support for both distributions would also be provided through IBM. Elliot said that Novell and Red Hat pushed for this portion of the deal, as they pointed out a common misconception of open source Linux is that there is no support structure to deal with issues customers may face.
Additionally, IBM announced that both companies would help customers build service oriented architectures, or SOAs, around the J2EE environment. Novell has agreed to ship the Apache Geronimo open source J2EE application server as part of an upcoming version of its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server distribution.
IBM says that both Novell and Red Hat have contributed to the success of Linux systems offered by the company. According to figures released by research firm IDC, Big Blue leads the market in Linux-based server revenue with a 29.7 percent share.
Elliot cited internal figures that show there are more than 12,000 IBM-based Linux deployments worldwide.
Red Hat leads software vendors, with as much of 60 percent of the server based market according to some surveys. When questioned about the need to provide two distributions when Red Hat clearly dominates the market, IBM’s Handy said it was about choice.
He said that offering a choice of distributions was a customer request, adding that was “one of the great things about open source.”
News source: Betanews