IBM and SuSE Linux have joined forces to provide Linux support and services to their combined global client base.
"In the past we have had development relationships with SuSE to build distributions to run across our eServer line. But this is a global services relationship that focuses exclusively on professional services and support items," Peter Neilsen, manager of Linux offerings for IBM Global Services in Austin, Texas, told eWEEK on Tuesday. "It lets us collaborate on customer engagements and supplement each others skills to provide a formidable Linux services delivery capability for corporate customers."
In essence, the deal allows IBM and SuSE, which is headquartered in Nuremberg, Germany, to use one anothers staff as subcontractors in professional services engagements.
The alliance gives SuSE access to IBMs scale and relationships with enterprise customers, while IBM gains access to SuSEs product skills. The alliance also offers maintenance and support.
IBM will package and support turnkey implementations of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server, which will be backed by SuSEs development, maintenance and support teams, Neilsen said.
Although IBM will also act as "a kind of reseller" of SuSEs enterprise server product, "we are not a distributor, but we will be helping them in this regard," Neilsen said.
While this is the first time IBM Global Services has used this comprehensive alliance agreement model with one of its Linux distribution partners, the company hopes to roll out similar agreements with other Linux distributors and is talking to some in that regard, he said, declining to give specific details.
"Were interested in relationships with any Linux services company that our customers are engaging with. Partnerships are very important to the success of the Linux environment," Neilsen said.
But Big Blue will not be using SuSE expertise for all its Linux-related solution problems and implementations. If an IBM customer has a problem with a non-SuSE solution, "we will find that specific resource in the industry. SuSE will not be our only resource for Linux-related matters," an IBM spokesman confirmed.
Gerhard Burtscher, the CEO of SuSE Linux, said the alliance is a major step to making Linux corporate computing a reality.
IBMs Neilsen agreed, saying the deal with SuSE is an important step in accelerating the adoption of Linux in the enterprise and that IBM expects this to be a "breakout year" for Linux.