IBM Adopts Novell's Linux OS for Lotus, Websphere Appliances

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted Apr 21, 2010


IBM is turning to technology from Novell to build Linux OS powered software appliances -- a move that aims to deliver easy-to-deploy software for physical, virtual and cloud-based environments in use at small to midsized businesses. Under the terms of the deal, IBM will use Novell's SUSE Linux OS technology to build appliances for collaboration and business analytics applications.

The new software appliances deliver solutions for IBM Lotus, Websphere and Cognos software applications. Specifically, IBM will be offering software appliances for the IBM Lotus Foundations collaboration suite as well as the Lotus Protector for Mail Security. IBM's WebSphere Application Server is also benefiting with a software appliance aimed at virtualized environments, while Big Blue is ramping up its analytics offerings with appliances for its Cognos Now! and IBM Smart Analytics Optimizer packages.

The new solutions leverage technology from Novell's SUSE Appliance Program, which enables software vendors to build and deploy software appliances using a SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) operating system base.

Full financial details of the new partnership are not being disclosed, though Novell may well be generating revenues as a result of the deal.

"We collect revenue when the ISV ships a revenue generating application," Josh Dorfman, director alliance marketing at Novell told InternetNews.com. "For Novell, this is a new route to market and a way of growing our overall Linux market share."

Dorfman added that Novell has flexible pricing on the SUSE Appliance Program tools and collects support revenue only when SLES is deployed with a customer.

Novell has been building out its Linux software appliance efforts over the last several years, beginning with the online SUSE Studio service. Novell reported at the beginning of 2010 that over 250,000 software appliances had been built with SUSE Studio online, though the version that IBM is using is an on-premises version of the SUSE Appliance Program, rather than Novell's public online service.

According to Dorfman, software vendors are looking for a simpler way to configure and deploy applications.

"IBM is using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and the Appliance Program to support the development of a variety of different appliances from across the company," Dorfman said. "Not all use SUSE Studio. The motivation is to provide a configured software appliance that is tested and ready to deploy across a range of hardware and environments -- physical, virtual or cloud. This makes it much faster, easier and lower-cost for customers to realize value."

IBM and Novell overall have a strategic relationship that extends back over twenty years on various collaboration efforts. With SUSE Linux in particular, this year marks the 10-year anniversary of SUSE Linux running on IBM's System z.

"Novell is a strategic alliance partner and they have actively engaged us to collaborate in this space," Jean Staten Healy, director Linux strategy at IBM, told InternetNews.com. "However, this is not exclusive and doesn't preclude other relationships."

One of IBM's other key Linux relationships involves Novell's rival, Red Hat. As it turns out, the Novell-built IBM software appliances can be deployed on cloud technology that IBM is obtaining from Red Hat.

"Smart Business Development and Test on the IBM Cloud is powered by Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV), the Red Hat-branded and -supported KVM offering," Healy said.

IBM formally announced in March that it would be using RHEV for its cloud deployment.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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