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IBM center gives partners a Linux playground

The expansion of IBM Virtualization Innovation Center for Hardware includes a distinct Linux essence, allowing Big Blue's business partners to test the open source operating system on powerful technology like the Power5 in a virtual environment.

A new set of offerings formed with the expansion of the IBM Virtualization Innovation Center for Hardware has a distinct Linux flavor, including an online "how to" guide for porting from Windows, Unix or Linux to Linux on Power5.

Adam Tumas, regional manager for the IBM Virtualization Innovation Center for Hardware, said the guides were formed as a result of feedback from business partners who believed that IBM was offering them the right information, just not all in one easy-to-use package. Beginners especially, Tumas said, may have had trouble finding the information they needed all in one spot.

The new resources, offered as part of IBM's PartnerWorld Industry Networks initiatives, provide business partners with access to online knowledge and an enablement portal that helps them gain access to real-time technical resources, Tumas said.

These resources are based on grid and IBM Virtualization Engine technologies through the Virtual Innovation Center for Hardware, which enables business partners to access a pool of resources, including the entire eServer and TotalStorage family of products.

Linux was also granted a share in the IBM Virtual Loaner Program, which expanded its reach to include support for application porting, testing and validation support for SuSE Linux Server 9 on Power5 processor technologies. Each of the avenues of support is available to partners over the Internet.

Tumas said a Linux component was applied to the expansion because IBM users were increasingly asking about the technology. He explained partners were asking how to get Linux, and users already using Linux were inquiring what the Power5 architecture could do for their company and customers.

"[Partners] were telling us, 'I want to test [Linux] and see for myself.' At the very least, they wanted the option to look at Linux," Tumas said.

Jim Balderston, senior industry analyst with Union City, Calif.-based The Sageza Group, said the announcement is a boon for both Big Blue and their business partners.

"IBM gets its partners to work on their technology and the partners get to see all the technology and work in a virtual environment, thus freeing up time for experimenting and testing for other projects," Balderston said.

More time to experiment bodes well for Linux, especially in small and medium-sized businesses where there may be a shortage of personnel or tighter budgets that would typically hinder the testing of Linux or open source projects.

"This is an opportunity for people to use Linux and see how runs … to leverage IBM's existing investment in Linux and see what opportunities are presented," Balderston said.

Balderston said the new proponents of the Virtualization Center can allow IBM to use its longstanding relationship with Linux to "seed the market" with the technology, as business partners use it in a virtual environment.

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"With virtualization [IBM] gets to let partners get more comfortable, understand the technology and play around with it," Balderston explained. "All in all, IBM partners get the opportunity to really make their products sing and hum on IBM technology, so they can walk into a potential customer's office and demonstrate with confidence knowing their project is going to run well.

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