With HP's help, China's Red Flag Linux to step onto global stage

The two companies plan to focus their cooperative efforts first on China

An alliance between Hewlett-Packard Co. and Chinese Linux developer Red Flag Software Co. established last month should lead to cooperation between the two companies on technology development and marketing of Red Flag Linux to companies in China and around the world.

The announcement, made in Beijing on Aug. 20, strengthens a long-standing relationship between the two companies and represents a milestone in Red Flag's plans to expand its business outside the world's most populous country.

The two companies plan to first focus their cooperative efforts in China and then expand their work to include Asia-Pacific and the rest of the world, according to a joint statement by the duo. No time frame was given for when Red Flag plans to expand its enterprise software business beyond China.

Under the agreement, HP will provide Red Flag with help in sales and marketing, technology development, training and support services, the statement said.

HP has a long-standing relationship with Red Flag that stretches back to the Linux developer's earliest days. Compaq Computer Corp., which HP acquired in 2002, was one of the three original partners that introduced the first versions of the Red Flag distribution of Linux in 1999 in China. The other two partners were the Institute of Software Academia Sinica Sino-Software System Co. and Beijing Founder Electronics Co.

Global expansion has long been in the cards for Red Flag.

In 2000, just two months after Red Flag was formally established as a company by the Chinese Academy of Science's Institute of Software and a Shanghai investment company, its president and CEO, Liu Bo, said Red Flag planned to distribute its version of Linux outside China. At the time, the company had plans to first introduce Japanese and Korean versions of Red Flag Linux, followed by the release of an English version.

The announcement that HP and Red Flag are strengthening their relationship to bring Red Flag Linux into markets outside China suggests that these plans -- originally set to have been carried out by 2002 -- may finally be nearing fruition.

Laying the groundwork for that expansion, HP and Red Flag are first focused on expanding Red Flag's reach among enterprise customers in China, the statement said. The two companies plan to establish an HP/Red Flag Linux laboratory in Beijing for product and technology development as well as open a Linux demonstration center.

On the product side, HP will support Red Flag Server Series 4 and other products on its Integrity and ProLiant servers. HP and Red Flag will also work with companies including Intel Corp., Oracle Corp. and BEA Systems Inc. to develop a common application environment for users in the government, telecommunication and financial sectors, as well as other industries.

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