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
"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?"