Answering an increased demand from its service provider customers for better audio and video streaming capabilities, IBM Corp. on Thursday announced that it has struck a deal with Seattle, Washington-based RealNetworks Inc. to feature RealNetworks’ RealSystem technology on Big Blue’s Unix server line.

RealSystem 8 will be available immediately for IBM’s RS/6000 systems as well as the new eServer pSeries line of Unix server products, according to Tim Dougherty, the director of ebusiness marketing for the Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM.

A bundled platform that includes the popular RealServer, RealProducer, and RealPlayer family of products, RealSystem 8 is operating system independent and supports over 40 media data types.

Dougherty said that “an increasing demand [for streaming media capabilities] from infrastructure customers and service providers who are heavy uses of streaming audio and video” drove the decision to begin packaging the RealNetworks technology in IBM servers.

“This also opens new possibilities for our e-commerce customers to take their online catalogs and make them more exciting, and it’s a good way to provide executive briefing to an employee population or a seminar event,” said Dougherty.

Dougherty represented the RealNetworks deal as the latest salvo to be lobbed at competitor Sun Microsystems, based in Palo Alto, Calif.

“This is another weapon to use,” said Dougherty. “We have been very public about going after Sun customers and making our technology available to replace Sun machines.”