IBM and Novell will start offering SuSE Linux 9 on a per-chassis, rather than per server, subscription basis later this month.

Instead of having to buy a single licence for each blade server, end users will be able to buy one subscription that will cover whatever blades they choose to run within IBM’s BladeCenter chassis.

The chassis holds a maximum 14 blades and supports, Intel, AMD and Power-based systems. The annual subscription starts at $2,792.

"If a customer were to buy a fully loaded chassis and were to deploy all 14 blades, on the full chassis it would save them $17,000," says Juhi Jotwani, director of xSeries and BladeCenter solutions at IBM.

Savings start with as few as eight blade servers in the chassis, she said. The idea is to give end users the flexibility to add and remove blade servers and reprovision systems as workloads demand without having to worry about operating system licences, Jotwani says.

HP made a similar announcement in August when it said that it would begin offering its BladeSystem servers bundled with management software and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, all priced on a per-chassis basis. Jotwani says IBM’s offering is different because it is strictly the Linux operating system and does not include management software.

"We almost think of [HP’s offering] as a way of upselling their management tools, where this is just the pure chassis licence for the operating system, giving the customer more control and letting them scale and buy more servers and software as they need," she said.