SuSE to Distribute IBM Linux in Europe, M.E., Africa

German-based SuSE Linux is planning to distribute IBM's entire line of software for Linux in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the two companies are set to announce at the LinuxWorld Expo in Frankfurt on Tuesday.

German-headquartered SuSE Linux is planning to distribute IBMs entire line of software for Linux in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the two companies are set to announce at the LinuxWorld Expo in Frankfurt, Germany on Tuesday.

SuSE will act as a value added Linux distributor for the IBM Linux software line, which includes more than 50 IBM products, and is also the first Linux Distribution Partner (LDP) to become a distributor across all of IBMs software lines.

Holger Dyroff, SuSEs U.S. sales director, told eWeek in an interview ahead of Tuesdays announcement that SuSE would be a primary distributor in Europe for Big Blues DB2, WebSphere, Lotus, and Tivoli Linux software product lines.

"There is strong demand across Europe for IBM products from its database DB2 product to its WebSphere middleware. There is currently less demand for Lotus as customers wait for the new version due out next year," he said.

While the deal was limited to Europe with regard to its distribution of the IBM Linux software, "the products and business solutions we are doing together - like the SuSe Linux Groupware Server with Lotus Domino R5, SuSE Linux Database Server with IBMs DB2 Universal Database, and IBMs WebSphere Commerce Suite 5.1 for Linux – can be sold globally," he said.

While the deal was also non-exclusive for both parties, Dyroff said it would be beneficial for SuSE given its leading position in the Linux market in Europe and its growing presence in the U.S.

"We currently have some 25 percent market share in the U.S., up from just 8 percent in 2000 and growing; some 75 percent of the Linux market in Germany; and 50 percent across Europe," he said.

Business in the states was also booming, with SuSEs total U.S. revenue 80 percent higher in the first nine-months of this year than over the same period in 2000. The recently released SuSE Linux 7.3 operating system was selling even better than the previous 7.1 version. "We currently have more pre-orders here in the United States than ever before for any release," he said.

The latest agreement would also benefit both SuSE and IBM as an increasing number of companies were deploying Linux as an integral part of their IT infrastructure, but for that they also needed commercial software, he said.

"IBM is a good source of that with things like DB2 and WebSphere, which allows us to expand our deepening relationship with IBM to our resellers. We are getting some revenue out of this and it is a growing business for us," Dyroff said.

Customers were also looking for the same cost, performance and reliability benefits from their business applications that they got from current Linux-based infrastructure solutions. "Together with IBM, we plan to deliver those Linux solutions to our business partners and joint customers," he said.

Scott Handy, IBM softwares worldwide director of Linux Solutions, agreed. "[The deal] is a win-win for both customers and channel partners because it is driven by mutual goals: to provide value-add Linux solutions to our customers and to deliver these solutions through our channel partners," he said.

SuSEs Dyroff said it was also the European reseller and distributor for a number of other third-party Linux-related software products like VM Ware.

IBM will also announce in Germany on Tuesday a comprehensive set of changes to the line-up of NetVista thin clients, creating a new suite of products that leverage the Linux operating system.

BigBlues new thin client offerings include the NetVista Thin Client Manager Operations Utility, Release 2. This new server-based systems software scales easily, simplifying systems management in deployments ranging from small departments to entire enterprises of thin clients, said Dan Powers, IBMs vice president for worldwide Linux solutions.

Also offered are new choices in thin client software, based on Turbolinux 7, that include enhancements in the Linux 2.4 kernel, Citrix ICA 6.2, the Netscape 4.78 browser, and IBM enhancements for NetVista thin clients.

IBM also introduced two new thin client devices, the NetVista N70 and the NetVista N2200 Thin Client Linux Express. "The new NetVista N70 is IBMs most powerful and versatile thin client to date and also offers an integrated 802.11 wireless option," Powers said.

The new NetVista N2200 Thin Client Linux Express is now a fully functional, pre-configured thin client that can access multi-user Windows and enterprise applications, using Turbolinux 7, he said.

The new line-up was designed to help simplify the management of thin clients, help lower overall solution costs, and take advantage of multiple IBM resources including client hardware, software, servers, networks, services, consulting and financing, he said.