Red Hat, IBM Partner

SAN FRANCISCO — IBM and Oracle were among the computer industry heavyweights that made a splash at LinuxWorld in San Francisco today.

The computer giant also said it has expanded Linux support across its collaborative software portfolio with new offerings of its Workplace software. It includes support for the Firefox browser and new software that will integrate Lotus Notes access into IBM’s Workplace Managed Client.

A new plug-in will further integrate Lotus Notes and Domino into Workplace. For example, IBM said Linux desktop customers will have access to any Notes or Domino applications with a simple click of the mouse.

IBM also announced an agreement with Red Hat that enables organizations to evaluate, for a period of 90 days, a combined IBM Workplace Services Express version 2.5 collaboration software and Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system. The software can be downloaded from Red Hat to simplify the process of a customer having to deploy, use and evaluate a working installation of the combined software.

Workplace Services Express, designed for small to medium businesses, enables customers to run a portal, e-mail, team rooms and instant messaging on a single Red Hat Enterprises Linux server. The portal enables customers to integrate a variety of business applications.

The agreement is another indication that IBM wants to move aggressively to capture more of the small- to medium-business market.

“So what?” was the response that IBM exec Steve Mills gave at a press conference when asked if IBM was willing to support open source applications that don’t carry the profit margin of more expensive commercial products.

“In the long term our customer base will grow, and we’ll be introduced to buyers we would have never been introduced to previously,” said Mills, IBM’s senior vice president of software.

As reported earlier, IBM announced support for Apache Geronimo and that it open sourced its Gluecode Management Console and contributed it to the Geronimo project.

Separately, Red Hat announced the launch of its “Security in a Networked World” initiative, which will emphasize platform-level security technologies and policies, as well as expanded address identity management, systems monitoring and the delivery of security content.

As part of this initiative, Red Hat is releasing a smart card management system, which includes collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation to enable smart card detection in upcoming versions of Firefox and Thunderbird.

Red Hat is also working with partners and customers to enable government compliance with Federal Information Processing Standard 201 (FIPS 201) in response to Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12).

HSPD-12 mandates that all federal agencies implement smart card technology, including digital identity credentials (certificates), to be used to authenticate users prior to granting access to federally controlled buildings (physical) and systems (logical).

“Red Hat technology provides the digital credentialing infrastructure for the world’s largest implementation in the federal government for the Department of Defense (DOD), said Bill Schell, president of August Schell, a leading technology solutions provider to federal agencies involved with defense and national security.

Oracle Bullish on Linux

Meanwhile, Oracle president Charles Phillips detailed in a keynote how aggressively the database giant is moving to support Linux. Compared to having no Linux ISVs three years ago, the software giant now has more than 1,500 writing Oracle applications. In all, Oracle supports over 5,000 ISVs, including the 1,500 focused on Linux.

Internally Oracle has some 10,000 servers at a facility in Austin, Texas, running 64-bit Linux backed by some 2.5 petabytes of storage.

Phillips said it’s one of the largest developer grids in the world and the largest running Linux. That support extends to some big-name companies like, as well as others in Europe and Asia, totaling some 450 customers in all.

In 2004 Linux, server shipments rose 47 percent in Asia, 38 percent in North America and 23 percent in Europe, according to Gartner.

Still, Phillips concedes Linux is in many ways just beginning to make a broad impact on the enterprise.

“CIOs like what they’ve seen so far,” said Phillips. “I hear from some that have gone 20 percent [of the way investing in Linux] and want to go farther. The next challenge for Linux is to become the foundation of the enterprise.”

Phillips added that Oracle will be moving aggressively to get applications from companies it’s acquired onto full support of the Linux platform.

“We think we can change the way customers experience computing and give them back time and money back for innovation,” said Phillips.

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