IBM and Red Hat team up to take on Sun

Big Blue and Red Hat conspire to migrate users from Solaris to Linux. IBM ponies up with free assessments and migration support.

Many Solaris users are ripe for a refresh, and IBM is targeting them where it hurts the most -- in the pocket.

A deal with Linux giant Red Hat Inc. is part of IBM's "take-no-prisoners" approach to sucking Sun customers off of Unix and onto Linux.

IBM's pitch to Sun customers: Free initial assessments and plenty of migration support.

The move to single out one player in the Linux market may annoy companies like Novell Inc., but Amy Wohl, president of Narberth, Penn.-based Wohl Associates, said she expects campaigns with other Linux providers in the future.

"Sun sells Linux, but they want to sell Solaris," Wohl said. "Sun doesn't make an effort to sell it. IBM makes the argument that if you want Linux, you should go with a Linux supporter."

To sweeten the deal, IBM's Linux team has taken a play from the AIX group and is offering free-funded, pre-sales migration assessments to companies considering Linux. A similar campaign to move Solaris and Hewlett-Packard's Unix customers to AIX was successful, according to IBM, and the company expects customers to be enthusiastic about this latest offer.

The assessments are designed to allow customers to look at both business and technical considerations associated with migrating from Solaris to Linux without making an up-front investment.

In addition, IBM is touting its "Migration Factory," a group of migration specialists to help IT shops transition. These for-fee services will include access to IBM Migration Factory personnel to help customers migrate from Solaris C/C++ environments to Linux, as well as to migrate Oracle databases from non-IBM Windows and Unix platforms to Red Hat and Novell SuSE Linux on IBM platforms.

Sun Solaris server sales peaked in 2000, meaning many of those shops are ripe for a refresh, said Scott Handy, vice president of worldwide Linux for IBM.

"In 2000, Solaris server sales were $10.1 billion," Handy said, drawing on Gartner statistics. "Last year, Sun's sales were $6 billion, and if you look at what happened to Linux in those four years, server sales grew from $500,000 to $4.9 billion."

Handy admitted that Linux was not solely responsible for eating away at Sun's market share, but the numbers were compelling enough to get the ball rolling at IBM and Red Hat.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Matt Stansberry, News Editor

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