IBM has long looked to Novell to serve as a buffer to Red Hat's growing dominance.
Years ago, IBM invested $50 million in Novell. More recently, IBM selected Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise for its Cognos 8 mainframe debut. A Red Hat Enterprise Linux version is planned for the future.
The choice of Linux was easy: 20 percent of IBM's System z growth stems from Linux, and Linux is easier to develop. According to an article in SearchEnterpriseLinux.com:
Cognos was able to fast-track porting the application to System z because it was already available for IBM Systems p and x and because it's faster to make changes to open source code...
This won't offer Novell much of a lead over Red Hat, but it's a signal that Red Hat has real competition again.