Big Blue Welcomes Red Hat, Novell To the Fold

Calling it the most important partner announcement it has made since its strategic commitment to Linux six years ago, IBM Wednesday elevated Red Hat and Novell to be members of its Strategic Alliance program.

The move is designed to make it easier for users to buy and implement Linux-based hardware, software and services through a more integrated sales, distribution and services channels.

In concert with the announcement, IBM announced new subscription models that allow IBM to resell Red Hat and Novell solutions with their hardware. The company also announced new channels and access by Red Hat and Novell to its innovation centers, including those based in fast-growing markets such as China and India.

"We can now work to combine subscriptions from Red Hat and Novell with IBM offerings, which is what users have been asking for. In many engagements users want to buy subscriptions in combination with middleware or services on either IBM or non-IBM hardware," said Scott Handy, vice president in charge of worldwide Linux and open source at IBM.

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IBM said it is forming for the first time a sales force dedicated to selling IBM products that offer Red Hat and Novell subscriptions to both enterprise accounts and small and midsize businesses. Handy said that sales force is already active in the United States and will begin selling in Europe and Asia next month.

The new sales force will offer one- and three-year Linux server subscriptions sold either with IBM server hardware or with IBM Global Services SupportLine offerings, company officials said.

In a related announcement, executives from all three companies underlined their commitment to the Java community, saying they will help users deploy Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs) that are built on within a J2EE development environment.

"As part of the deal they (Red Hat and Novell) have both agreed to help us promote Apache, Geronimo and Gluecode as an open stack and promote solutions around that," IBM's Handy said.

Novell officials said they promise to bundle Apache/Geronimo in its next release of SuSE Linux Enterprise server operating system due in 2006. The company already bundles IBM's Apache Derby database in version 10.0 of SuSE Linux.

Red Hat has agreed to work with IBM to certify IBM's version of the Geronimo application server, called the WebSphere Community Edition, to guarantee it works with Red Hat-based solutions. Red Hat also agreed to support IBM's efforts in promoting Apache Geronimo.

During Wednesday's press conference, IBM officials said that the company's business partners contribute more than 35 percent of IBM's Linux revenue. They also said that the company went over the $1 billion mark for revenues for a single quarter for the first time in this year's third quarter.

"When we started off with Linux six years ago, we promised to invest $1 billion, and now we are getting that investment back on a quarterly basis going forward," Handy said.