IBM, a long time contributor and supporter of the Linux and open source movement, today bestowed its highest tier partner status on commercial Linux vendors Red Hat and Novell Inc.
Both Novell and Red Hat will now be included in IBM's Strategic Alliance Program, which is designed to allow independent software vendors (ISV) work through one point of contact within IBM as opposed to navigating through several relationships with representatives from different divisions.
The move was billed by executives from all three companies as a means to make it simpler for clients to acquire open standards-based Linux hardware, software, and services through integrated sales, distribution and services channels.
The three companies also stated a "reinforced commitment" to the Java community, which comprises more than six million developers worldwide.
As part of the Java component, each company will assist customers in deploying Service-Oriented Architectures (SOA) based on a J2EE application environment.
SOA is the underlying structure supporting communications between services. Service interactions are defined using a description language. Each interaction is self-contained and loosely coupled, so that each interaction is independent of any other interaction. For example, SOA defines how two computing entities, such as programs, interact in such a way as to enable one entity to perform a unit of work on behalf of another entity.
The announcement comes at a strong period in time for the Linux operating system (OS), which according to Framingham, Mss.-based research firm IDC is growing annually at 26% and is expected to reach approximately $35.7 billion by 2008.
During a conference call on Wednesday, IBM vice president of worldwide Linux strategy Scott Handy said that the elevated partnerships with Novell and Red Hat would also build momentum for other open source technologies outside of Linux.
Move also builds momentum for open source
Under the terms of the agreement, Novell has agreed to distribute the Apache Geronimo open source J2EE application server as part of its SuSE Linux Enterprise Server distribution. Novell currently includes the Apache Derby database in SUSE Linux 10.
In addition, Red Hat will to certify IBM's WebSphere Community Edition -- a version of the Geronimo application server -- for Red Hat applications.
Handy said that combining the Linux distribution strategy with Apache provided a easier to use software platform for Java developers.
Handy said the new platform would allow small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) and departmental users to simplify application development and deployment by pre-integrating the most common services to build mainstream Java applications.
The move could also help retain some Java developers who might have been enticed throughout 2005 by the rise of the completely open source Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP/Python/Perl (LAMP) development stack.
Open source vendors like San Francisco, Calif.-based ActiveGrid have pushed the popular LAMP stack as a way to simplify and speed the development process of SOAs. ActiveGrid CEO Peter Yared was an outspoken critic of Java this year, and believed LAMP is a much more flexible and forgiving environment for developers.
As part of Wednesday's announcement, both Novell and Red Hat have also agreed to help promote Apache Derby, a Java-based relational database that IBM contributed to the open source community in August, 2004 to help developers build and deploy applications and workloads that require an embedded database.
"Each element of this announcement certainly opens up new sales channels for Red Hat and Novell, and it's pretty obvious what the impact of Linux has been in the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific," Handy said. "There have also been some areas where Linux has had even more reach -- in brick countries like Brazil and Russia -- where we will extend other open source offerings."