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IBM and Red Hat, Inc., today, announced a joint channel program aimed at accelerating the adoption of Linux in emerging markets. The effort will provide solution builders with additional tools to help them develop Linux-based applications and bring them to market sooner.

Aimed at accelerating the adoption of Linux solutions in markets such as Brazil, China, India and Russia —where Linux and other open standards-based solutions are outpacing proprietary systems— IBM and Red Hat, Inc are pouring resources into 15 IBM Innovation Centers around the world, and into the IBM developerWorks community. Participating ISVs and solution providers can find, technical support, development assistance and access to IBM hardware and Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system to help spur new and innovative solutions.

“It’s very important to us that Linux be a successful platform and it’s obvious why we would want to partner with people in the same ball game,” said Todd Chase, program director of IBM Innovation Centers worldwide. “If everyone is on a Microsoft (proprietary) platform, Microsoft calls all the shots. They then determine the things we should all have a choice in. We want to see an alternative to that gives us and others a say. Plus we believe in benefit of open standards.”

Open standards-based IT companies rely heavily on solution builders to propel their technology, especially in new markets, where their reach is limited, Chase said.
“They are the ones building the applications that make the technology worthwhile,” he said.

IBM and Novell launched a similar program in March to drive the development of applications for Novell’s SuSE Linux on the IBM eServer and middleware platforms.
Such cultivating programs are vital to build successful solutions, said John Hall, director of Linux International, an industry group representing developers, resellers, and users of open standards-based systems..

Having a place where the ISV can go to get support and more importantly access to the hardware ad software means better solutions and quicker,” Hall said. “One of the hallmarks of open standards has been the ability of developers to work with the technology and build solutions before it hits the market. They’re tested and tried and you know they’re stable by the time they’re available.”

Open standards technology is expanding worldwide, but no where more so than in emerging markets, where businesses and even governments are just now building IT infrastructure and have yet to commit to proprietary or Open Standard platforms.

Read more about Linux success in the U.S. Massachusetts Mandates Open-Format Documents Edges Towards Linux

In 2004, the sale of Linux servers shot up 44 percent to $4.25 billion and should reach 9.3 billion in 2009, according to IDC research.

That progress in foreign markets, Hall said, is already driving open standards adoption in the U.S., where sales of Linux products grew 35.2 percent from 2003-2004.

“We don’t live on an island anymore,” Hall said. “We work with these other markets, exchanging documents and information all day. When you start to see the other technology in use and see it is being done cheaper, faster and better, you (grow) interested.”

IBM may consider future programs to promote the development of open standards solutions on additional platforms, but none are in the works, Chase said.

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