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IBM and Red Hat ganged up on Sun Microsystems today by opening something the vendors are calling a "Solaris to Linux Migration Factory."

This factory isn't a standalone operating system sweatshop but rather a combination of services and software designed to make it easier for customers to kick Sun's flavor of Unix out of their data centers. IBM has, of course, been more than happy to shift customers from Solaris to Linux or AIX for many years. Now, however, it will offer a free assessment as to how much this might cost financially and technically.

"The service includes for the first time a pre-funded, pre-sales migration assessment from IBM Systems & Technology Group for qualified customers that will result in no charge to the customer for the assessment, and will help them answer difficult questions and determine the right migration strategy to Linux," IBM said. "Once the assessment is completed and the customer decides they want to continue with the migration, then IBM's Migration Factory is engaged."

This is a pretty typical proposition from the likes of IBM, Sun or HP. All three of the vendors periodically kick off programs to woo customers over to their OS of choice. This wooing usually entails some free services or test hardware. It's very generous of these vendors to tell you "for free" how much it will cost to do business with them later.

This time around, IBM appears set on disrupting Sun's recent success on Wall Street. Following the boom, a number of Sun's key financial services customers started using Linux in place of Solaris, which led to a huge drop in revenue at Sun. Of late, however, Sun has focused on winning these customers back with its Opteron servers that can run Linux or Solaris x86, and its Solaris 10 operating system, which has a number of features that set it apart from Linux. Analysts have indicated that Sun has actually started to gain ground with this strategy - something IBM picked up on.

IBM highlighted Wall Street a number of times in its statement announcing the Migration Factory. "The service will enable customers in all industries to more quickly migrate to a Linux environment, including those in the Wall Street and financial services sectors," it said. In addition, IBM announced that 22 financial services ISVs have vowed to port their 48 Solaris applications over to Linux.

The incredible amount of Solaris-to-Linux migrations have started to tax IBM's infrastructure.

"In fact, since IBM began its Linux journey several years ago, we estimate that more than 3,000 of our approximately 12,000 Linux customer engagements have been with customers moving from a Solaris environment to Linux," said Scott Handy, vice president of worldwide Linux for IBM. "With volumes like these, we really needed a factory approach."

One wonders why IBM would now start giving away services for free if the program has been so gosh, darn successful, but that's what the canned quotation tells us.

Along with their OS assessments, IBM will hold some ever-popular roadshows in 35 cities around the globe and extol the virtues of Linux over Solaris at every locale. Need more information? Here you go. ®

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