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Enterprise Linux Today: IBM 'Linux-enabling' Channel Partners; Good News for Linux, What About Linux Companies?

Mar 02, 2001, 09:14 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Wolley)

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Out of all the ways IBM is backing Linux with its considerable resources, the just-announced drive to Linux-enable its channel partners is perhaps the most important part of Big Blue's strategy to push Linux into wider business use. But if the IBM initiative succeeds in creating a much larger Linux market, it's not clear how much Linux companies will benefit.

"On Monday (late February), IBM announced a program to subsidize the cost of obtaining Linux certification for its partners: "All IBM Business Partners that have eligible IBM certifications can be reimbursed for tuition and test expenses up to $3000 once they pass Linux Professional Institute (LPI) Test 101 or achieve Red Hat Linux certification."

"This... is potentially a very big deal. Why? These IBM "partners" are the value-added resellers (VARs) and independent software vendors (ISVs) that work directly with IBM's customers, know those customers' needs best, and exert a major influence over their technology decisions -- and these folks currently are heavily Windows-centric... By subsidizing the out-of-pocket cost for these partners to obtain Linux certification, IBM is removing one of the barriers for this group to bite the bullet and get geared up to work with Linux -- to become 'Linux-enabled.' And this certification subsidy comes on top of IBM's November announcement of special bargain-basement pricing on... a bundle of DB2 and other enterprise Linux applications [targeting this same group]..."

"All this is shaping up as definitely good for Linux, but it's possible that it will not be so good for some Linux companies. ... In the worst case scenario, IBM's partners would compete with and seriously hurt Linux companies... In a more hopeful scenario, IBM partners would provide Linux companies with an effective means to service a larger Linux market... The question as to whether a Linux-enabled IBM channel would be good or bad for Linux companies may ultimately boil down to the issue that Leibovitch raised: can Linux companies gear up to service channel players as well as directly dealing with companies that want to deploy Linux?"

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