Article

IBM, Novell to deal Linux to niche markets

Jack Loftus, News Writer

Novell and IBM today announced a joint initiative to help independent software vendors (ISVs) accelerate the development and certification of new applications for Novell's SuSE Linux on IBM eServer and middleware platforms.

Through the partnership, ISVs will have access to the technical resources, hands-on tools and expertise available at nine IBM Innovation Centers in North America, Europe and Asia to certify their applications for SuSE Linux on IBM hardware and software, said Todd Chase, director of IBM's Innovation Centers.

"As a result, ISVs can port new applications to SuSE Linux more quickly and cost effectively, creating new technology infrastructure choices for customers running Linux-based applications," Chase said.

Chase explained Novell will provide ISVs with copies of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server and supporting documentation. The company will also facilitate on-site registration for Novell's Technology Partners Program to assist ISVs in certifying their applications on SuSE Linux and IBM hardware.

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At IBM Innovation Centers in San Mateo, Calif.; Waltham, Mass.; Chicago; Hursley, U.K.; Paris; Stuttgart, Germany; Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China; and Sydney, Australia, ISVs would receive support and technical expertise to help them migrate, develop and implement their applications for SuSE Linux on IBM platforms, Chase said.

"Over the past few years, Linux has transformed from a niche operating system to a mainstream solution that customers are increasingly deploying in their existing IT environments," said Wood Lotz, the CEO of Rochester Hills, Mich.-based Absoft Corp. "This is an important milestone in the long-term success of open source solutions and represents an opportunity for us and our customers to utilize the very best hardware, software and support from IBM and Novell."

Keep on hopping

Hayward, Calif.-based Pund-IT Research principal analyst Charles King said he sees the deal between IBM and Novell as an extension of Big Blue's Chiphopper program that was launched at LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in Boston last month.

Chiphopper is a no-charge worldwide program that assists ISVs that wish to take their existing x86-based Linux applications and test, port and support them across all of IBM's systems, including the eSeries, iSeries and zSeries.

"This is an interesting announcement," King said. "It appears to be a variant or some kind of special deal reflective of Chiphopper; a sort of a natural outgrowth of that program."

King said it appeared as though IBM and Novell were aiming their initiative at smaller ISVs so they could strengthen their presence in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market, which includes niche markets like grid computing, insurance and marketing.

"These are a couple of areas where IBM has really been focused, rather than just shooting a scatter gun and hoping to hit something," King said.

The established SMB players also come with a built-in audience, which is something that will play well for Linux, King said.

DÉjÀ blue?

The initiative between IBM and Novell should sound familiar, as a similar deal was struck in December 2004 between Big Blue and Red Hat.

The deal with Red Hat and the current deal with Novell didn't surprise King, who said it was in IBM's best interest to pursue two of the top vendors in the Linux space.

"They have covered the market pretty well with these two, and with the more generic Chiphopper announcement they could pick up a number of smaller vendors," King said. "You'll pick up 500 users here and 500 users there and then all of sudden you have yourself a market," King said.


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