Hot on the heels of IBM breaking the $1 billion dollar mark in quarterly revenues related to Linux, Big Blue is rewarding Red Hat and Novell by promoting them to the IBM Strategic Alliance program, its highest partner level.
The new partner status puts Novell and Red Hat in IBM's Top 10 list of global partners, alongside such other notables as Cisco and SAP.
In addition to the status elevation, IBM, together with Red Hat and Novell, will jointly partner to further adoption of open source technologies beyond Linux.
IBM hopes the new partner status will make it even easier for customers on a global basis to get Linux and open source software, hardware and support from a single point of contact.
On an afternoon conference call Scott Handy, vice president of worldwide Linux and Open Source at IBM, called the announcement the most significant partner elevation of Red Hat and Novell's status since IBM first started offering Linux six years ago.
Handy recalled IBM's pledge in 2001 to invest $1 billion into Linux. The third quarter of 2005 was the first quarter of $1 billion in revenue from Linux-related activities for IBM.
"We're now getting our investment back on a quarterly basis," Handy said.
Along with the new partner status, is a new dedicated IBM sales channel that is specifically focused on selling Linux subscriptions to Novel and Red Hat distributors.
Handy explained that IBM has always had a global relationship with Red Hat and SUSE but now will be working with the Linux vendors to combine subscriptions with IBM offerings.
Handy noted that IBM's support of both Novell and Red Hat is a good thing for the market.
"One of the things we like about the Linux market is that there are multiple suppliers which creates a competitive environment," Handy said. "Customers like choice."
Handy commented that when asked the question about multiple suppliers of Linux by customers, he usually responds by making a comparison to Microsoft Windows.
"If you had two suppliers of Windows might you have different terms and conditions for licensing and support?" Handy said.
In addition to Linux, IBM will be partnering with Red Hat and Novell to further the adoption of other open source technologies, in particular Apache Geronimo and Apache Derby.
Geronimo is an open source J2EE application server that IBM supports directly and through its recent acquisition of Gluecode.
Thanks to the new partnership, Geronimo will be included with Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, while Red Hat will work with IBM to certify Geronimo for Red Hat platforms. Both Red Hat and Novell will also work with IBM to help promote Apache Derby as well.
"The momentum is strong and by extending it beyond Linux to open source beyond Linux we can get additional momentum," Handy said. "My mantra has always been that momentum breeds momentum so I think that this is just in general a really good thing for the industry."
This article was originally published on internetnews.com.