Novell spells out NetWare Linux commitment

The groundswell of vendor support for Linux in the enterprise continued last week, with Novell’s latest moves.

NetWare 6.5 global product manager, Rob Seely, revealed the company would ship Linux Services 1.0 free to current customers in December — and would ship a two-kernel offering [Linux and Novell proprietary] of the NetWare 7.0 operating system within 18 months to two years.

Seely said that contrary to rumours that Novell was planning to dump it’s proprietary NetWare kernel in favour of Linux, the networking heavyweight would allow customers to choose which OS they preferred, ruling out any forced march to open source for existing customers.

While he expected some NetWare customers to taste test Linux now it was available on the Novell menu, Seely said he expected most of the uptake would come from enterprises that need to be convinced of adequate application support and backing.

“It will be huge, people will realise that [enterprise-grade Linux] is really serious now,” Seely said.

The full suite of Novell solutions such as identity management, automatic user provisioning and browser-based, self-help and self-service facilities were currently being ported into the Novell suite of products, he said.

Gartner’s Asia-Pacific research director for servers and storage, Phil Sargeant, said Novell’s thrust into open source was both a timely and necessary survival move that would send a strong signal that Linux had broken out of the Web server stereotype and was ready for serious enterprise action.

“Big organisations such as Telstra and the banks are risk averse, have plenty of support, plenty of research and development, stability and viability,” Sargeant said. “From that perspective it’s very good [for Linux and Novell].” IBM’s investment of a “chunk of money” would elevate blue chip perception of open source, he said.

The move would most likely prove mutually beneficial for both Novell and open source in general, Sargeant said. Novell had recently found its core OS NetWare languishing of late.

“The reality is that the momentum was not behind NetWare, they needed a vehicle and Linux is that vehicle,” he said. “What Novell has been doing is divorcing a lot of its product offerings from NetWare. iFolder and eDirectory haven’t been tied to NetWare as they were in the past. The Linux community is probably a little concerned, so it will be interesting to see how the community, and I shouldn’t call them propeller-heads because they are really good guys, will react.”

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