HP to become preferred vendor of Red Hat Linux

CIOL Bureau
New Update

SAN FRANCISCO: Hewlett-Packard Co and Linux software distributor Red Hat Inc. said on Tuesday they had struck an agreement making HP a preferred provider of services to support Red Hat's Linux offerings for large corporate customers.

HP rivals International Business Machines Corp. and Dell Computer Corp. already have similar status with Red Hat, said Mike Evans, vice president of channel sales and development for Raleigh, North Carolina-based Red Hat.

Linux, a variant of the venerable Unix operating system, is freely available, and tens of thousands of software developers contribute to it. It has emerged as a threat not only to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, but also to proprietary operating systems used by IBM, HP and Sun Microsystems Inc.

Until recently, Linux had been making big gains on the so-called edge of a company's computer infrastructure. Now it is also making headway into the more sophisticated, mission-critical portions of a company's computer systems, such as data centers and transaction processing, analysts have said.

"As Linux is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our business, it's now moving fairly and squarely from a strong position in network-edge applications out into more mainstream infrastructure and data-center-class applications," said Hugh Jenkins, head of marketing for HP's industry-standard servers.

Industry standard servers are those that use Intel Corp. compatible chips, known as x86, either with processors that crunch data in 32-bit chunks or with Intel's Itanium 64-bit microprocessor.

Microprocessors are the brains of a personal computer, workstation, notebook PC, server computer or mainframe computer.

The agreement, making Red Hat the preferred version of Linux that HP would sell to customers, was not struck sooner because HP was still in the process of integrating Compaq Computer, which it bought last May for $18.7 billion.

"HP is kind of a new company," Jenkins said. "While we had in both companies pre-merger a great relationship with Red Hat, it was probably fair to say that agreements were spread far and wide" throughout the two companies.

While HP said it would honor customers' requests to work with other Linux vendors, the agreement could have a negative effect on other sellers of Linux software, such as Conectiva SA, the SCO Group, SuSe Linux AG and Turbolinux Inc., which together have formed a consortium called United Linux.