IBM, Novell Join Forces In One-Price Blade Licensing Plan

blade Linux

Starting late this month, IBM blade server customers will have the option of paying for a single license for Suse Linux to cover the entire BladeCenter chassis, regardless of the type and amount of blade servers, said Juhi Jotwani, director of BladeCenter and xSeries solutions at IBM, Armonk, N.Y.

The Suse license is a Novell SKU that solution providers can purchase from Novell, Waltham, Mass., or IBM. Since the OS isn't bundled with the BladeCenter chassis, solution providers can offer it to customers with existing blade server enclosures as current per-server licenses expire.

The chassis licensing scheme can be a big money-saver, Jotwani said. The license covers up to 14 Intel-based, Advanced Micro Devices-based or PowerPC-based servers, either single- or multiprocessor units. A one-year license for the full chassis lists for $2,792, and a three-year license costs $6,980. For 14 two-way PowerPC-based blades, a customer can save up to $17,100 over a three-year period using the chassis license, she said.

What's more, said Jeff Medeiros, CEO of rs-unix, a San Francisco-based IBM partner, the licensing plan means less tracking of multiple server licenses.

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"Also, the subscription and support for Linux licenses might not be the same time as the hardware," Medeiros said. "It becomes difficult to manage all these assets. This new licensing cuts a significant amount of that management."

As customers become more familiar with Linux, licensing plans like this will start to worry Microsoft, said Hunt Russell, sales manager at Evolving Solutions, a Hamel, Minn.-based IBM solution provider.

IBM has invested a great deal in Linux and is trying to find ways to give customers deals they can't pass up, Russell said. "More ISVs are porting applications to Linux," he said. "And look at the cost to put Microsoft on the blades. Say it costs about $700 for Windows on a blade. So if you have four blades, the license costs are the same as for 14 IBM blades with Suse Linux."

The IBM/Novell license agreement is not the first for Linux on blade servers. In early August, Hewlett-Packard signed an agreement with Red Hat.