Although the deal isn't an exclusive relationship for either company, it's the most important Linux pact IBM has signed thus far on its road to weaving Linux into the fabric of the entire company, said Robert LeBlanc, vice president of IBM's software group.
As previously reported, the deal means even more to Red Hat, tiny compared to vast IBM. "It's the most significant relationship we've entered into," said Paul McNamara, vice president of products and platforms at Durham, N.C.-based Red Hat. "What we do now is work together to tune and optimize IBM's software portfolio on Linux."
The news was announced at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in San Jose, Calif., a twice-yearly event gaining in corporate sponsorship with each show.
Under the deal, Red Hat and IBM will put funding into a market development fund. Programmers from both companies will work to make sure Red Hat's version of Linux meshes with several IBM applications: DB2 database software; Lotus Domino for accomplishing group projects; Tivoli management software; WebSphere e-business software; and a small-business pack, or collection of software, for Linux.
The joint work will result in new products containing software from both companies and sold by both companies, IBM and Red Hat said. "Initially there will be a rollout of joint products. That will evolve to be an integrated product," McNamara said.
The approach resembles that of Red Hat rival TurboLinux, which has announced versions of its software working with database software from both IBM and Oracle. In addition, Oracle is working with German Linux seller SuSE.
IBM also works with other Linux companies. For example, it tapped Caldera Systems with certification help from Linuxcare to craft a version of Linux for IBM's laptops. IBM also works with SuSE to support Linux in Europe, with MandrakeSoft in France and with TurboLinux in Asia.
IBM, an early investor in Red Hat, already had a contract under which Red Hat helped to bring software to Linux and support Linux on IBM hardware.