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IBM, Red Hat Go Abroad With Linux

IBM and Red Hat announced Friday they will sink more resources into their 15 innovation centers worldwide to lure software developers in Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) to the Linux operating system, as well as IBM's middleware and servers.

ISVs who sign up to IBM and Red Hat's partner programs are eligible to receive a free copy of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, as well as a number of online and off-line resources, in order to get these developers to certify and port their applications to Red Hat.

Market research continues to point to Linux as a very good growth platform and alternative to Microsoft, said Todd Chase, IBM program director of IBM worldwide innovation centers. And while the program and Red Hat resources are available worldwide, officials are targeting the eight innovation centers in the BRIC region.

"There's good reason to do that; there's less investment that the developing markets have already made," he said. "In those markets, they're at the stage where they're just starting out in some cases and they don't have that sunk cost already.

"Open standards and open source and the low cost of creating Linux-based applications are even more compelling there, we think," Chase added.

Chase said IBM has been experiencing rapid growth in new ISV partners interested in Linux through its innovation centers worldwide. Last year, he said, approximately 400 ISVs signed up for their Linux programs; in 2005, they had reached 400 in August.

IBM partnered with Novell and Red Hat in August 2004 to spur interest in Linux-based applications on IBM's Power architecture.

In March, IBM struck a similar arrangement with Novell to deliver SUSE Linux to the innovation centers.

IBM officials point to key indicators that Linux activity is picking up in the BRIC regions. The company's growth in China, Russia and India increased 25 percent -- or $4 billion -- in 2004. Linux server licenses in Asia rose by 36 percent and client licenses by 49 percent last year, according to numbers they provided from IDC research.

That same IDC report shows Windows growth in the regions, but at a slower rate: 24 percent for server licenses and 14 percent for clients.

While IBM is supporting the two commercial versions of Linux in its partner program, other Linux distributions won't likely find their way into programs similar to SUSE or Red Hat.

"The reason is our business partners," Chase said. "Every new platform that they need to support is an additional expense for them, additional code for them perhaps. So we're trying to hit as many applications with as few lines of code written as possible to start with."

IBM's online Red Hat documentation is now available at the company's developerWorks Web site.

ISVs who want a copy of Red Hat Enterprise Linux can register at Red Hat's partner site to download a copy or have it mailed to them. Alternatively, developers can visit one of the IBM innovation centers for information on obtaining the software.