HP Signs Red Hat, Novell For Linux Expansion

Hewlett-Packard is putting its money and some of its internal resources where its mouth is: behind Linux.

Linux distributors Red Hat and Novell have signed unrestricted use agreements with HP that allow the tech giant to widely deploy Linux within its organization.

Financial terms of the two deals were not disclosed. Efrain Rovira, worldwide director of marketing for HP’s open source and Linux organization, told internetnews.com the value “is important for both of them.”

Measured by Linux hosts, including desktops and servers, HP’s current internal Linux deployment is greater than 15,000 installations, Rovira said.

Linux is used internally at HP for a number of tasks, including DNS management, corporate directory, wireless network synchronizations, mail and secure instant messaging. Part of the goal of the new unrestricted use agreements is to enable further Linux deployments within HP’s own organization.

Rovira explained that HP used to have individual agreements that applied to Red Hat or Novell SUSE Linux usage. The latest deployments are more widespread and will take HP’s use up a notch, he added. “Once we use it on our own systems we’ll end up with a richer set of options, making it easier for our own people to use Linux.”

HP will not be mandating that its users use Linux either. As with customers, it’s all about user choice.

“Not everyone needs to run Linux,” Rovira added. “It’s all user driven. What are you doing, does it make sense for you to use it, is it the OS that provides the most advantage to you? If so, then you go ahead and use it.”

Rovira noted that HP’s own Linux deployment is consistent with its belief about integration.

“Customers don’t just rip and replace. They integrate with what they already have,” Rivera said. “We’re building our capabilities to be able to allow customers to take advantage of Linux while still reaping the benefits that they can from their existing investments.”

Red Hat and Novell SUSE Linux are of course not the only Linux distributions in the market, but they are the only ones that HP will be using internally.

“The reason we did the deal with Red Hat and Novell is because of the type of users that we have internally and the applications that we are building on top,” Rivera explained. “As much as there may be advantages to other distributions, if you’re a software vendor you don’t want to be certifying seven or eight different distributions. You want to be certifying two, maybe three. It just makes it easier for them.”

HP also announced today that it would be using its own home grown Linux Common Operating Environment (LinuxCOE) to manage its Linux deployments providing lifecycle and provisioning support. HP has also moved to license LinuxCOE under the GPL .

Red Hat and Novell both have their own tools to help enterprises manage and deploy installations. But HP has its own backup tools, virus protection and other such application that it needed to manage and update from one central repository. A GPL-based installation means that anyone else could also use LinuxCOE; Rovira said others “may” use it.

“We believe that the GPL is the best license for open source projects,” Rovira said. “We have a strong belief that there are already too many licenses out there.”

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