The new line of IBM servers that will run Red Hat's Linux Version 7.1 include the zSeries, a 64-bit mainframe server; the iSeries, a server for small and medium-sized businesses based on a 32-bit architecture; and the midrange 32-bit pSeries servers.
The fourth in IBM's line of eServers, the xSeries - a midrange server based on chips from Intel that comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions - has already been available running the Red Hat operating system.
"This gives Linux the ability to move into the high-end server market," said Kevin Thompson, Red Hat's chief financial officer and executive vice-president. IBM would push the Linux-based hardware to customers replacing Unix systems and those running Sun Microsystems' Solaris, he added.
One major benefit, Thompson said, is that customers will now be able to run the same Linux operating system and the same applications across the entire IBM eServer family, from the midrange Intel-based servers all the way up to the mainframe.
As part of the deal, Red Hat said it would be responsible for providing its open source operating system, product support and professional services, as well as version and service upgrades to customers that buy an IBM eServer with Red Hat's operating system installed.
Support offered through the deal includes software and manuals, customer support by telephone and e-mail, and professional services for customers that want to re-configure the server software specific to their business.
Pricing depends on how customers configure their systems and which IBM server they use. The software will be available on Red Hat's Web site from 29 November, the company said.