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RealTime IT News

IBM Gives the Penguin a Boost

Spurred by the interest and demand for more resources to develop applications on IBM's Power architecture, officials announced Monday a bevy of training aids and free test environments.

Officials from the Armonk, N.Y.-based tech giant also announced the inclusion of more Red Hat and SUSE Linux support for its reseller program, Leaders for Linux, to jump start its participation in this week's LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco.

IBM has been increasing the level of Linux support it provides for the 64-bit computing Power architecture, backwards-compatible with 32-bit servers, after seeing a dramatic uptick in interest from the open source community.

"The growth of Linux has gone from what was infrastructure-like file print, firewall servers to now, I think, in the genuinely mainstream," said Buell Duncan, IBM general manager of ISV and developer relations. "As a result, we are launching a number of very significant programs to help support those companies who are making a significant effort to enable their applications around Linux."

The bulk of Big Blue's Linux on Power efforts revolve around three virtual Power platforms to tweak and improve applications on the Power architecture. Two of them are for its ISVs and the third for the open source community.

  • Virtual Loaner Program - a three-month-old program that lets ISVs access servers through a secure Web portal and expand system capacity.
  • "Test Drive" Centers for ISVs - Similar to the virtual loaner program, ISVs can remotely configure and test applications for free on a limited basis, or pay for more long-term development projects.
  • Academic support - the University of Portland School of Engineering is letting any developer develop or port their applications on their Power-based hardware. Officials say more universities will be offering similar programs in the future.

Duncan said the company has been busily building up Linux on Power resources at its DeveloperWorks site to accommodate the influx of visitors and demand. He said approximately 320,000 developers visit the site every month and 600 Linux on Power applications have been written in the past six months.

"Our customers and our partners tell us this has real value," he said. "The market is asking for alternatives to Windows-only solutions. [Research firm] IDC had said that in three years [Linux] will be the number-one server operating system in terms of new shipments; as the market moves there, solution providers and ISVs are working to enable their applications to support this demand."

In reseller news, IBM announced Monday the 250 members of its Leaders for Linux reseller program would get a boost from Red Hat and Novell Linux distributions -- Red Hat Linux and SUSE Linux.

The expanded relationships with the two vendors give IBM resellers more access to support, marketing and training, akin to the level of support Novell and Red Hat offers its own resellers: 24x7 technical support, online training and guides, pre-sales support and access to each company's knowledge base.

Starla Cox, director of North American channels marketing at Novell, said that by helping out IBM's program, it helps itself.

"Our partner community is a very high priority for us and we see the IBM Leaders for Linux program as a key target in terms of identifying market makers who are going to help us drive our Linux initiatives moving forward," she said. "We see them as a tremendous opportunity and base."

IBM includes systems integrators, value-added distributors ISVs, solution providers as well as resellers in its Leaders for Linux program.