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Hewlett-Packard Co. has signed new multiyear global subscription agreements with both Novell Inc. and Red Hat Inc. that will consolidate and expand HP’s existing Linux use agreements with the two vendors.

“In a nutshell, what this does is take internal Linux usage at HP up a notch. While there are currently more than 15,000 Linux-based systems in use within the company, these are umbrella license agreements for the whole company and allow us to build and deploy internal Linux systems and solutions more easily and more rapidly,” Efrain Rovira, HP’s worldwide director of Linux marketing in Houston, told eWEEK on Wednesday.

While Rovira declined to detail the specifics of the deal or its cost, he did say that “at this point in time, it is mostly around the operating systems. I can’t disclose how many licenses were involved and how much we paid, but we bought enough to consolidate all of our existing licenses under one agreement as well as provide for significant growth beyond that,” he said.

HP currently uses Linux for a variety of internal tasks such as managing its corporate directory, synchronizing its wireless network, managing its DNS infrastructure, expediting core firmware development, providing secure instant messaging worldwide, and handling more than 3TB of incoming mail a year.

Click here to read more about HP’s Virus Throttle for Linux product, announced at LinuxWorld San Francisco in August.

David Patrick, the vice president for Linux, Open Source Platforms and Services at Novell, said that HP’s growing internal embrace of Linux would accelerate the process of promoting Linux adoption at the corporate level.

“HP’s enhanced use of Linux reflects a strong trend in enterprise IT, where customers are choosing the combination of open-source and traditional solutions that best works for them,” he said.

HP is also not mandating that those staff who currently use Windows and Windows-based applications move to Linux.

“We are giving them the same choice that customers have, given that we support Windows, Unix and Linux. We believe that this move shows our further commitment to Linux, not just as a business beneficiary from it and open source but also as a user of the technology,” Rovira said.

Next Page: LinuxCOE.

HP had also chosen its open-source LinuxCOE (Linux Common Operating Environment) product, which currently supports some 70 percent of its 15,000-plus internal Linux hosts, to provide provisioning and lifecycle support for all the Red Hat and SuSE systems covered by the new internal use agreement, Rovira said.

“LinuxCOE lets users install, manage and update Linux far more easily and efficiently. It also allows them to centralize the interaction they need with the software that is included in the image they create. It lets them work on the image once and then redeploy it multiple times,” he said.

HP’s Open Source Review Board had recently approved the licensing of the LinuxCOE, which was developed by HP Managed Services, under the General Public License (GPL), he said.

Read more here about the GPL 3 process.

Asked what the benefit of open-sourcing this technology was to HP, Rovira said that customers wanted a partner that was not only capable of building its own Linux solutions but which was also committed to Linux and open source.

“When a partner hears that we are not only making Linux more widely available within HP, but that we are also making technologies available to the community, that gives them confidence that HP is really committed to Linux and that we will can integrate Linux into their own environment,” he said.

To read more about HP’s open-source plans, click here.

HP, by using LinuxCOE internally, also has a very thorough understanding of the solution and its usage, Rovira said.

“You could say our staff are ongoing testers of the product and that we eat our own dog food, if you will,” he said.

“Our IT department uses it to build images that are server- and workstation-related and which can then be redeployed across HP, which removes the need for staff in each of the company’s business units and divisions to monitor and update their systems. We will now have one central way of doing this, which makes it a lot faster and more efficient to utilize Linux inside of HP,” Rovira said.

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