HP offers support for Red Hat Linux enterprise products

Linux vendor Red Hat Inc. on Wednesday announced an expanded partnership with Hewlett-Packard Co. that will provide enterprise customers with full global sales and support for Red Hat's products on HP hardware.

Under the deal, HP will become one of Red Hat's "preferred vendors," joining existing preferred vendors IBM and Dell Computer Co. in providing sales and support around the world.

Mike Evans, vice president of channel sales and development at Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat, said the deal builds on past business relationships between the two companies to better serve customers. Under the contract, HP will provide full Red Hat Linux support to enterprise hardware customers running the operating system, including those using HP's 32-bit and Itanium-equipped machines.

Hugh Jenkins, vice president of marketing for HP's industry standard server group, said the arrangement will give customers "a single point of accountability" when they need help.

Jenkins said more and more customers have been asking for Linux on HP hardware but that some have been hesitant to use it because of concerns about support in the past. "That's been a barrier to getting Linux into the data center," he said. "But standing behind Linux like it's (our) own operating system will help convince them of [HP's] commitment. Linux is becoming a key piece of our business."

Analyst Bill Claybrook of Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston said the deepened HP/Red Hat alliance will help make Red Hat stronger. "It makes sense," Claybrook said. "HP sells more Linux servers than anybody else. Why not have the biggest vendor on your side, too?"

Red Hat competitor UnitedLinux created similar partnerships with HP, IBM and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in January to better serve their global enterprise customers. But those partnerships aren't likely making Red Hat nervous, Claybrook said.

"I don't think they're worried about UnitedLinux yet," he said.

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