IBM is beefing up its support for Red Hat Linux Advanced Server. The company on Monday will announce the expansion of its support for Advanced Server from the current eServer xSeries servers to the zSeries, iSeries and pSeries servers.
The two companies will also announce a multiyear alliance that includes services and expanded support for servers and software that will enable the two companies to jointly provide broad Linux support to enterprise customers worldwide.
Peter Nielsen, the Linux offerings executive for IBM Global Services, declined to comment on the duration of the alliance. But he stressed that the move will have no effect on IBMs support for, and adoption of, UnitedLinux when it is released sometime next year.
“This announcement reaffirms IBMs commitment to a dual-distribution strategy—Red Hat and UnitedLinux. IBM customers may now choose the Linux distribution supplier that gives them the combination of Linux distribution features, services and support that best meets their needs,” Nielsen told eWEEK.
The Red Hat move also means customers have more choice and confidence as they move to invest in Linux, he said. As Linux has matured to meet the demands of enterprise-level customers, those customers need the flexibility to work jointly with IBM and Red Hat. “In the past it was an either-or decision,” he said
Mark de Visser, a vice president at Red Hat, told eWEEK that he expects the support for the other IBM server lines to be in place within the year. “When we roll out the next version of Advanced Server—and I dont have an exact time frame for that—we will have a version for the eServer xSeries, zSeries, iSeries and pSeries servers,” he said.
The deal also allows Red Hat to play in new areas and geographic locations that were not available to it before. In addition, “every time IBM lands a new Linux customer they will have the option of deploying Advanced Server, and we will share in the revenue generated from that,” de Visser said.
Red Hat and IBM Global Services will also team to provide end-to-end service and support to customers with Linux technical knowledge and engineering resources.
IBMs Nielsen said this alliance involves working closely on a number of fronts that span technical support, hosting capabilities, sharing leads and working jointly to support the same customers.
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Red Hats de Visser said the two companies have created a “mix-and-match” structure that essentially allows the customer to decide which firm will offer support and services. “But, given the size and scale of IBM, the majority of account interaction will be in their hands,” he said.
IBM will also make its key software products available on Red Hat Linux Advanced Server, starting with Intel processor-based servers like the eServer xSeries this year and expanding to additional eServer hardware in 2003.
These software products include WebSphere, the Java 2 Enterprise Edition-based infrastructure software for building and deploying Web Services; DB2; Tivoli; and Lotus. IBM already offers a comprehensive portfolio of middleware products for Linux, with more than 60 products currently available.
“Our middleware offerings will also support Advanced Server. Currently, DB2 and WebSphere support Advanced Server on the xSeries. With this announcement, IBM will expand software support for Advanced Server across our entire eServer line, for our key middleware, WebSphere, DB2, Tivoli and Lotus,” Nielsen said.
The latest expansion with IBM follows several other Red Hat deals announced recently. At the LinuxWorld show in San Francisco last month the Raleigh, N.C., company announced it will support Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s upcoming 64-bit Opteron chip with a special release of its Advanced Server software next year.
Also at the show, Dell Computer Corp. announced new professional services designed to accelerate the deployment of Linux in the enterprise, part of which will be jointly delivered with Red Hat.
The agreement extends the One Source Alliance between the two companies to help customers migrate from proprietary Unix systems to Linux.