Novell buys well with SuSE, locals say

Novell's purchase of German Linux vendor SuSE is astute and will be a positive move for both Linux and Novell users, say Linux specialists.

Novell’s purchase of German Linux vendor SuSE is astute and will be a positive move for both Linux and Novell users, say Linux specialists.

In New Zealand, the main impact will be on public perceptions of Linux, says David Lane, interim co-ordinator of Linux vendor group Openz.

“There’s a large, loyal Novell-installed base here and they’ll look more favourably at migrating to Linux. With IBM also investing in Novell, it should increase confidence within the New Zealand Novell user base.”

IBM is to buy $US50 million worth of Novell stock, while Novell and IBM are negotiating an extension of existing support agreements for SuSE on IBM hardware and middleware.

The $US210 million purchase of SuSE, coming just three months after Novell bought Linux desktop application vendor Ximian, further signals Novell’s move away from presenting NetWare as its core offering, Lane says.

“I think it’s fairly clear Novell is shifting all its value-added software and middleware to Linux. They’re making significant steps to consolidate their position so they can take advantage of the mass migration to Linux.”

Igor Portugal, technical head of Auckland Linux provider Asterisk, says the purchase is “excellent news”.

It wasn’t a complete surprise to him, as he’d heard the rumours. “Ximian, while a great product, is very niche,” he says.

“It was just a piece of the puzzle and whether they’d finish the puzzle with their own products or buy another company was the question.”

He says that, as with any acquisition, the companies have to integrate and work together, but from Novell’s point of view, the move is shrewd.

“Novell is re-inventing itself. NetWare is an excellent product, but I think they’ve lost the marketing game [with it] and Linux is the right choice of technology to offer, looking at the market long term.”

From Asterisk’s wider perspective Novell’s buy is great news, he says, as it will give Asterisk the chance to work directly with SuSE’s owner.

“We’ve traditionally struggled with [vendors] like SuSE and Red Hat not having local representation. With Novell buying Ximian we’ve been able to talk to the local representatives of the product and that’s a big advantage. We’ve deployed a number of SuSE Linux servers and having local representation will be fantastic.”

Linux competitor Red Hat, on the other hand, will continue its less-than-ideal distribution model in New Zealand, he says, and Openz’ Lane says the SuSE purchase will leave Red Hat as the only major Linux brand without directory services.

Novell will continue to support NetWare on RedHat “but will lead with SuSE”, vice-chairman Chris Stone told Computerworld US .

Red Hat last week announced it is to end its free commercial Linux product range to concentrate on a paid range for businesses, though the product will still be downloadable free in some circumstances.

Earlier this year, Novell revealed that NetWare version 7, due out in 2005, will be a set of services that can sit on both NetWare and Linux.

Microsoft platform strategy manager Martin Taylor told Computerworld US that Novell’s purchase is further evidence that Linux is going to continue to consolidate and become more commercial.

“[That] means Linux will move towards being held up to commercial standards and that gives us an opportunity to look at things like cost, reliability, interoperability and even security, for that matter, on a more balanced playing field.”

John Enck, a server strategies analyst at Gartner, says the move helps Novell stack up against Microsoft.

“Microsoft’s major concern these days is Linux and so the combined Novell-SuSE-Ximian really does create a more competitive stack than Novell has. Novell can go head-to-head at the OS level and say ‘OK, you have Exchange, we have Groupwise, you got file and print and so do we’,” Enck says.

  • Large, loyal Novell installed base likely to look favourably at migrating to Linux

  • Local representation for SuSE, Ximian will aid implementation

  • Microsoft bullish about stacking up against commercial Linux offering

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