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Linuxers Look East

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Red Hat Inc. (Nasdaq: RHAT) are looking eastward to emerging markets in an attempt to spread the open-source gospel and lure users onto their platforms.

The two vendors today announced an initiative to woo developers in countries such as China, India, and Russia over to Linux, based on IBMs 15 testing centers dotted around the globe. The firms have teamed up to let software vendors port and certify applications at these “innovation centers,” using a mix of IBM hardware and software as well as the Enterprise Linux product from Red Hat (see IBM, Linux Team Up ).

IBM is pushing centers in places like Beijing, Bangalore, and Moscow in a bid to plant its technology flag in growing markets. This is the second time in recent weeks that the vendor has looked abroad. Last month IBM targeted startup companies in China, India, Russia, and Brazil with another open standards initiative (see IBM Launches Initiative and IBM Forms Council).

Emerging markets, particularly in Asia, represent a major potential cash cow for U.S. software vendors. Linux, which is touted as a low-cost and secure alternative to proprietary software from the likes of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), is catching on in many locations east of Europe. Last year, for example, Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) (NYSE: CA) used Linux to clinch a major deal with the Chinese government (see China Certifies CA).

IBM and Red Hat are wooing the same kinds of users in the new markets as they have in the U.S. -- namely, those dissatisfied with the level of open-source support they receive from ISVs (see Wall Street Calls for Linux Support).

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