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Big Blue's ISV channels remain Linux boon

With another Linux-related ISV announcement, IBM has shown that in established and emerging markets alike, working with local business leaders is what's needed to keep the momentum going strong.

Independent software vendors (ISVs) supporting the adoption of Linux and open standards were given another boost from IBM this week as the company teamed up with Red Hat Inc. to promote adoption of the open source operating system.

The global partnership aims to accelerate the development and adoption of Linux-based ventures in emerging markets, as well as in markets that have already seen an established presence with Linux.

The move continues an ISV trend at Big Blue, which earlier this year initiated a similar venture with commercial Linux vendor Novell Inc. The move gives IBM ISVs an in with the top two commercial Linux vendors, Red Hat and Novell.

The partnership coincides with published research from IDC, a Framingham, Mass.-based research firm, showing Linux server growth at approximately three times that of Microsoft, the nearest competitor.

I can tell you that every customer I have talked with in the market is implementing Linux as a key part of their strategy.

Judith Hurwitz
Founder and presidentHurwitz and Associates

IDC also found that the growth is representative of a shift in emerging markets, as the number of customers demanding technology based on open source and open standards continues to accelerate.

Judith Hurwitz, CEO and founder of Waltham, Mass.-based Hurwitz and Associates also stressed the importance of ISVs and their relationship with Linux.

As part of the initiative, Red Hat will provide ISVs with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and supporting documentation, as well as access to the Red Hat Network. The company will also facilitate on-site registration for Red Hat's Technology Partner Program to help ISVs certify their applications on Red Hat Enterprise Linux on IBM hardware and middleware.

The ISV channel is important, Hurwitz said, because it allows large corporations like IBM to get Linux into unknown, smaller markets.

And while efforts with a Linux desktop continue to sputter, Hurwitz said she agreed that Linux on the server has continued to dominate customer talk.

"I can tell you that every customer I have talked with in the market is implementing Linux as a key part of their strategy," Hurwitz said. "People find that it is scalable, reliable, and the market is growing to support it."

One of IBM's business partners, Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.-based Sky Solutions, agreed with Hurwitz's assessment. Founded in 1998, Sky Solutions is an international provider and systems integrator in the fields of business intelligence (BI) and customer relationship management (CRM).

Shachar Melamed, Sky Solutions' director of business development and CRM, said Linux in the enterprise had reached a "tipping point" that has been driven by an overall need in the industry for better security, flexibility and low total cost of ownership.

"The trend we see in the marketplace is obvious where customers, even those who had no intentions of deploying Linux-based systems, are now demanding applications that are open and platform agnostic than the proprietary Windows infrastructure," he said.

Agreeing with Melamed, Sageza Group analyst Jim Balderston recognized the embrace of Linux on behalf of ISVs as more ammo for the open source camp.

"To date, much of the penetration of Linux in the marketplace has been in the back room infrastructure space, tying things together at the lower levels of the stack. Such accomplishments are not to be scoffed at, but represent the first step in establishing Linux as an enterprise and market wide technology," Balderston said.

For more on this topic:

ISV's-eye view, part 1: 2005 a big year for new kinds of enterprise Linux apps


ISV's-eye view, part 2: IDEs and SOAs -- new problems, good tips

Once established, open source applications that meet the needs of enterprises of all sizes drive a stake in the ground around which Linux can rotate and destroy the notion that open source offerings cannot solve fundamental business problems, he said.

Additionally, IBM said it will also offer 29 new Linux skill-building tutorials on developerWorks, a resource program for developers. Every month, around 250,000 developers visit developerWorks Linux zone, and more than 10,000 developers participate in developerWorks' Linux tutorials.

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