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Unisys Partners With SUSE, JBoss

Unisys is extending its embrace of Linux with Novell's SUSE Linux division and open source advisory and support firm JBoss.

Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 9 is now certified on the Unisys ES7000 server line and JBoss has signed a multi-year agreement for production level support.

Unisys said the SLES 9 certification on the ES7000 means it is the only vendor with the certification that also has 32-bit and 32 processor (32 way) 64-bit server certification from Novell for SLES 9.

Unisys customers can now also purchase Novel SLES 9 licenses for the ES7000 servers for both 32- and 64-bit configurations of four to thirty-two processors. SLES 9 was released in May of 2004 and was arguably the first mainstream enterprise Linux distribution to include the full 2.6 kernel.

For those Unisys customers that choose to run SLES 9, Unisys will still act as the the single point of contact for any customer issue.

"If we determine the problem to be related to the [software], we involve Novell in the response," said Derek Rodner, senior manager for Linux at Unisys. "If it is a platform issue, Unisys handles it directly. This is no different than our work with other [software] providers such as Microsoft, for example."

Novell isn't the only Linux distributor working with Unisys. A Unisys spokesperson said the company also works with Red Hat on enterprise Linux.

"Our entry in the Linux marketplace was timed around the adoption of the 2.6 kernel, which offers better support, scalability and manageability for large multiprocessor systems," said Rodner. "While SLES9 is the first announcement we're making toward this end, others will be forthcoming."

One of the items that a remains unclear though is which virtualization technology will be utilized for the Linux OS that is installed on the Unisys hardware. Virtualization has long been a critical component of mainframe and multi-processor computing and of late it has also been a noticeable omission from mainstream Linux vendors' packages.

Both Red Hat and Novell have indicated they may be looking at including the Xen open source tool to fit the bill. A Unisys spokesperson would only say that the company is "working with OSDL, and others, to evaluate tools and open source virtualization products."

Unisys's JBoss agreement is a further extension of an existing relationship. Unisys was an original member of the JBoss Founder's Consortium, which was created in November of 2003 to help JBoss achieve J2EE certification. Now, the two have struck a multi-year agreement in which JBoss will provide production support for Unisys customers on the JBoss Application Server platform.

This next phase of our relationship allows customers to take advantage of a certified J2EE application server while enjoying enterprise-level production support from Unisys, said Ali Shadman, vice president of strategic software at Unisys.

Back in October of 2004, Unisys also made a pair of Linux announcements as part of its continuing strategy to become more active in the Linux ecosystem. It partnered with business intelligence vendor SAS to provide 64-bit BI solutions for Linux. Plus, it joined OSDL (Open Source Development Labs).

"Through our involvement in the OSDL, Unisys is helping to drive the enterprise capabilities of Linux," Rodner said. "We bring 50 years of mainframe experience to this world, and we are extending that expertise and knowledge to the brave new world of open-source computing. By being involved in the OSDL in this way, we feel we will benefit (by helping bring Linux deeper into the enterprise), and that the market-at-large will also benefit."