Dell and Red Hat expand Linux services

Dell Computer and Red Hat expanded an existing Linux services arrangement Tuesday, as the two companies continue their push to move customers off Unix-based servers from the likes of Sun Microsystems Inc. and onto Dell systems running the open source OS.

Dell and Red Hat will add several new professional services to a program they started in 1998 called the One Source Alliance. These are designed to show customers cost savings that can be achieved by moving from Unix-based servers onto systems running Red Hat's Linux operating system, said Randy Groves, vice president at Dell, at the LinuxWorld conference here.

Among new services available are porting code currently running on Unix servers to Dell's Linux systems. One target for such services is the financial sector which tends to run a fair amount of custom- made software, Groves said. Telecommunications companies in China and Japan are also targets, since they tend to use Unix systems and are trying to expand their infrastructure at a low cost.

The companies will also run TCO (total cost of ownership) studies for customers to mark potential cost savings achieved by using Linux servers instead of Unix hardware. Such an assessment will start at US$5,000, Dell said in a statement.

IMAX Corp. has signed up for Dell and Red Hat's joint offering to help convert the film "Apollo 13" into a format that can be played on the large IMAX screens, said Greg Foster, president of IMAX, during the news conference. The use of low-cost Dell servers and Linux made it possible for the company to render the movie into the new format on time and under budget, he said. IMAX has purchased 60 dual-processor Dell 1550 PowerEdge servers for the project.

"This is one of the few times that I could tell my kids this is what dad's servers can do," Grove said.

In particular, Dell and Red Hat are attacking Sun servers that run the company's Solaris operating system -- a flavor of Unix. Sun leads the Unix server market and launched its own Linux server on Monday that it billed as a direct competitor to Dell.

Dell also announced that it will extend its set of Linux services to include work on Oracle Corp.'s 9i Database and 9i Real Application Clusters (RAC). Dell, based in Round Rock, Texas, will help design and tune clusters of servers running Oracle's applications as part of this program.

In addition, Dell has expanded its high performance computing clusters (HPCC) technology. The company has expanded the number of servers it can support up to 128 systems. The clusters -- groups of servers linked together to operate as one computer -- will also support Dell's PowerConnect Switches and its blade servers, which will arrive later this year. Dell will also use Intel Corp.'s Xeon processors with its clustered servers and support Myricom Inc.'s Myrinet high-bandwidth interconnect technology.

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