The multi-year deal calls for Big Blue and Red Hat to team on customer service support and services for software and servers running Linux, the open-source OS that's gaining popularity among enterprise businesses worldwide.
IBM, which already has a three-pronged Linux-based storage strategy in place, said its Global Services would package Red Hat Linux Advanced Server and Red Hat Network managed software services and complement it with joint service and support offerings.
For Red Hat, the deal is its largest joint marketing pact ever and it more than doubles the sales force that will be hawking its server and database management software. Red Hat Linux accounts for almost half of Red Hat's revenues.
Red Hat and IBM Global Services plan to team up to offer end-to-end service and support to customers with Linux technical knowledge and engineering resources. The two companies also plan to package each other's consulting and service offerings, a partnership aimed at setting up one-stop support for all Linux customer requirements.
On the software side, IBM puts its key software products on Red Hat Linux Advanced Server, starting with Intel processor-based servers such as eServer xSeries this year, and expanding to additional eServer hardware in 2003. Big Blue's software for Linux include WebSphere, DB2, Tivoli and Lotus.
Big Blue, which has aggressively embarked on a quest to lure enterprises for its Linux-based servers, said the Red Hat deal is a "clear endorsement of Linux's growing role in corporate America."
"While IBM has already implemented more Linux solutions than any other organization, the ongoing support for the OS has thus far been limited to maintenance type agreements between Global Services and the Linux distributor. (This) moves the services agreement between IBM and Red Hat into a new realm," said Steve Solazzo, general manager of Linux, IBM.