IBM has decided to add support for Sybase's database software on its eServer OpenPower Linux servers. The two companies said they will jointly sell and market their products.

Although at first sight, the move looks as if IBM is supporting one of its software rivals, Big Blue already supports Sybase's ASE (Adaptive Server Enterprise) database on the AIX platform. The two companies are ganging up to put more pressure on the likes of competitors such as Oracle and Microsoft.

The agreement could help IBM find new customers in the financial services field, where Sybase has a strong presence. It also gives Sybase access to IBM's marketing activities and sales channel. IBM said support for Sybase ASE will be available early next year.

In September, Sybase released a free, limited ASE Express version of its database for use on Linux servers. The company said it does not plan at this time to release ASE Express for the Power5 architecture on which IBM's OpenPower servers are based.

IBM and Sybase, along with Oracle, have been aggressive in targeting the expanding Linux market. IDC estimates that Linux database software licence revenue grew 131 percent from 2002 to 2003, to US$522 million - mostly at the expense of Unix licences, which showed a revenue decline over the same period. IDC forecasts that Linux database licence revenue will reach nearly $2 billion in 2006.