IBM and Red Hat have Sun Microsystems' Solaris in their sites with an aggressive new "Solaris to Linux Migration Factory" program.
In the process, IBM might even rustle up some sales of its own POWER5 server systems, which compete with Sun's server system architecture.
Scott Handy, vice president of worldwide Linux for IBM, said IBM's chiphopper program would also help port applications from Sun's own SPARC architecture to other platforms including x86 (both Intel and AMD) and IBM's Power5.
"All of the Unix crowd were on RISC processors and have a tendency to want to stay with RISC," Handy explained. "Also, Chiphopper, which we announced in February, makes it possible to have just one source code for multiple architectures."
In 2004, 60 percent of IBM's Linux server revenues were on x86 architectures while 40 percent were for Linux on Power and mainframe, according to Gartner.
That's one reason behind the push for new POWER5 business.
But Handy also cited Gartner statistics that said Sun took in $10 billion in server revenue in 2000 but saw that stream slip to $6 billion by 2004. In the same period Linux server sales went from $500 million to $4.9 billion, he said.
"From a timing point of view 2000 was Sun's peak as far as server sales. Those servers bought in 2000 are now four and a half years old and this is prime time for that peak to migrate," Handy said.
A Sun spokesperson was not immediately available for comment about IBM's announcement or migration plans.
Though the initiatives were made in concert with Red Hat, IBM also plans to offer Novell's SUSE Linux to customers who want that particular distribution.
"Certainly this does change the fact that we support two distributions and we don't do exclusive deals," Handy said. "If a customer wants Novell, we'll do that."
IBM claimed it is launching the migration plan with Red Hat because Sun has similarly targeted Red Hat. By that, IBM is referring to Sun's OpenSolaris plans, which position Sun as a growing rival to IBM, Novell, and Red Hat in open source strategies, especially Red Hat's Enterprise Linux distribution.
Handy explained IBM has a multi-platform strategy, and with this effort would be facilitating migrations to all of those platforms. That said, the migration factory is designed to help steer business toward IBM's Power architecture.
Big Blue and Red Hat plan a road show across 35 cities, where two-day events will take aim at moving more customers from Solaris to the open source operating system.
Handy also more than a few factors are behind the switching strategy. For starters, IBM is offering a "pre-funded, pre-sales migration assessment from IBM Systems & Technology Group." After the assessment is complete the fees start to kick in with IBM Migration Factory Services for Linux that are designed to help end-users migrate from Solaris to Linux.
This article was originally published on internetnews.com.