IBM has launched a Solaris-to-Linux server migration program with Red Hat.

IBM's System and Technology group is offering free migration assessments to customers of Sun's Solaris operating system, outlining what it says are the costs and benefits of moving to Red Hat Linux. Over the past year, IBM's AIX group has sponsored about 500 such assessments for Solaris and HP-UX users, and the company now hopes to complete up to twice as many by the end of the year, according to Scott Handy, vice president of worldwide Linux at IBM.

IBM sells both Red Hat Linux and Novell's Suse Linux on a wide variety of its hardware, including its xSeries, pSeries and zSeries servers, but the new services were designed in partnership with Red Hat, Handy said. Red Hat Linux is also offered on servers from other hardware vendors.

The migration assessments will be conducted by the team of 150 engineers that IBM acquired in 2003 when it purchased the application porting services division of Sector7, Handy said. They will be available starting 1 June.

IBM has also been working with 22 financial services software vendors, including Cameron Systems and TimesTen to help them port their Solaris products over to Linux. To date, these vendors have moved 33 of an anticipated 48 total applications over to Linux, Handy said.

A third component of the program will be IBM's sponsorship of seminars and educational events designed to help customers with their Linux migration questions, Handy said.

Over the past year, Sun has taken pains to repair its reputation among Wall Street IT departments. The company has also gone out of its way to attack Red Hat's Linux distribution, calling it an incompatible variation, or "fork," of Linux, and promoted Solaris on Opteron as a technically superior alternative to Red Hat Linux.

Customers can sign up for the migration assessment program and learn more details of IBM's programs on its website.