When it comes to hardware and software, IBM and Novell have a longstanding SUSE Linux business relationship. So where are the two companies heading next together? Novell and IBM provided some clues during last week's Novell BrainShare conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Here are the details.

First, a little background: Both sides of the IBM-Novell relationship have new managers in place. Back around January 2010...
  • IBM moved Jean Staten Healy into a key position dubbed director, worldwide Linux.
  • Novell moved Joe Wagner into an equally strategic position dubbed senior VP and general manager, global alliances.
So how do Healy and Wagner intend to ensure a healthy, ongoing relationship between IBM and Novell? Lots of answers surfaced at BrainShare.

Of Novell's major hardware partners, it's somewhat safe to say IBM had the largest BrainShare presence -- running multiple workshops and sessions at the conference.

Admittedly, the IBM mainframe sessions were beyond the scope of some smaller VARs. But there also was a heavy emphasis on IBM software for SUSE Linux. IBM's Healy was quick to note that IBM's major software portfolio items -- from Lotus to Tivoli, DB2 and WebSphere, among others -- run on WebSphere SUSE Linux.

Also, IBM has started to use Novell's SUSE Linux appliance strategy -- which helps ISVs and resellers to speed software development and deployment.

Will IBM offer all of its software as Novell SUSE appliances? Healy says the answer is based purely on customer demand.

The VAR Guy's bet: Based on recent momentum, watch for more and more IBM applications to be available as SUSE Linux appliances.

Red Hat Summit

Of course, IBM wants to avoid a repeat of the Windows monopoly. For the age of Linux, Big Blue continues to hedge its bets on multiple fronts -- supporting Novell, Red Hat and even Canonical's Ubuntu in some cases.

Looking ahead to Red Hat Summit 2010 (June 22-25, Boston), it's no surprise to The VAR Guy that IBM is listed as the conference's top sponsor.

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