IBM strengthens Linux commitment with DB2 support

The Linux operating system received another big boost on Wednesday when IBM announced it will optimise its DB2 database, Version 6, for TurboLinux, the Linux OS shipped by Pacific HiTech Inc. Pacific HiTech will in turn bundle DB2 with TurboLinux in the third quarter.

Terms of the agreement go beyond bundling DB2 and include optimised TurboLinux versions of IBM's WebSphere and other middleware products, which will be developed at a so-called virtual development lab.

IBM will also offer worldwide 24-hour technical service and support for TurboLinux and make joint sales calls with the commercial Linux vendor. And, future bundling agreements with Pacific HiTech are most likely forthcoming, officials said.

"Currently there is no agreement to bundle WebSphere with TurboLinux but we are in discussions," said Jon Prial, director of Integrated Solutions and Linux Marketing at IBM, in Somers, N.Y., during a press briefing Tuesday.

Pacific HiTech's Craig Oda, vice president of business development, added that their customers are most interested in the yet-to-be released Linux implementation of the Lotus Domino server.

"We're talking about selling WebSphere, but we haven't signed an agreement. It's under serious discussion, but it's not guaranteed. They're also talking about a Linux version of Domino, but that's a little down the line," said Oda.

There is also a hardware component to the agreement, according to Oda.

"[IBM is] making sure the OS runs on their hardware, concentrating on their Intel-based NetFinity servers," Oda said. "And there's a training component. IBM does some training courses for TurboLinux based at least partly on ones we developed."

Pacific HiTech also plans to work with IBM to port TurboLinux to the RS/6000 platform, according to Oda.

Pacific HiTech is currently one of the leading Linux vendors in the Pacific Rim with as much as a 50 percent market share in Japan and China, according to Cliff Miller, president and CEO at Pacific HiTech in San Francisco. However, the company has only recently launched a marketing effort in North America.

With Pacific HiTech joining Red Hat, Caldera Systems and SuSe as Linux vendors, questions of compatibility between the various shipping versions also need to be addressed, according to Miller "There are potential problems which are being addressed through the Linux Standard Base," said Miller.

The Linux Standard Base consists of a group of Linux vendors and other industry leaders working together to standardize on a core group of libraries and APIs, said Miller.

For example, different versions of the fundamental C libraries from the various vendors may not be compatible, noted Miller.

"If your system uses one version of these [C libraries] and an application uses another version of these, that application may not work properly," said Miller.

Miller said there is healthy competition but at another level there needs to be cooperation.

"IBM can influence [Linux vendors] in a positive way," said Miller.

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