The companies plan to announce the deal Thursday at the CeBit trade show here, where SAP is headquartered.
SAP and IBM will demonstrate SAP's MySAP software, which lets companies handle tasks such as accounting, joint inventory and ordering systems with business partners and keep track of human resources. The demonstration will use an IBM z900 mainframe running Linux, the companies said.
The deal is a solid reinforcement of IBM's strategy to unite Linux, a new arrival on the operating system scene, with IBM's mainframes, a decades-old computer lineage. That strategy, along with boosts to IBM's Intel and Unix server lines, are key parts of the company's plan for recovering from Sun Microsystems' rise to prominence.
With the mainframe, hundreds or even thousands of versions of Linux can run simultaneously on the same machine. That's a nice arrangement for an application service provider that wants to rent access to software such as SAP's without having to manage lots of different computers.
Despite the support of stalwarts such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq Computer and SAP, however, Linux is struggling as a standalone business.
SAP, an early investor in Linux seller Red Hat, also is enthusiastic about Linux. For example, the company has been aggressively working to make sure its software works on Linux and Intel's upcoming 64-bit Itanium chips, and Red Hat has a version of its software tuned to work with SAP.
ScaleOn, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bayer, is using Linux on the z900, SAP said.