As the snow melts from the mountain peaks in Utah, the state’s largest
technology company, Novell Inc. gets ready for a busy year ahead. The company’s
annual conference BrainShareÂ 2004 saw renewed interest with over 6000
participants, a third more than last year.
The reason: Novell’s acquisitions of SuSE and Ximian in 2003 signals its
entry into the enterprise Linux distribution and services market and in 2004,
the strategy of company is expected to play out. “Novell is back,”
said Jack Messman, chairman and CEO, Novell pumping his fists, concluding his
keynote address at BrainShare 2004. He had further good news to share after
delivering on the promises made last year to embrace the open source world.
Messman announced the convergence of SUSE Linux and NetWare in a new product
family called Novell Open Enterprise Server (OES), to be released in December
2004, a full year ahead of schedule. OES will deliver networking capabilities
associated with NetWare platform and the company’s newly acquired SUSE Linux
and Ximian offerings to provide all components necessary to establish a
manageable, low-cost infrastructure for hosting mission critical networking
services, said Chris Stone, vice chairman, Novell Inc.
The product is intended to give customers the choice to move over to Linux
even as they continue under NetWare upgrade protection and maintenance
agreements. Apart from the choice customers can make, the management tools
across the system would be common, company officials said.
What does this line-up mean to corporate customers? Primarily, it offers them
plethora of choices. Existing Netware customers can choose to migrate to Linux.
Such of those who have both Linux and Netware can integrate the heterogeneous
environments. Those who are currently using Linux for peripheral applications
but Netware at the core can move Linux to the core. Older Netware users can
migrate directly to Linux.
Said Harish Mehta, managing director, Onward Novell, “Of course, there
is whole new base of new Linux users migrating from other environments. The
bottomline is the array of choices available and the value that comes in from
the services and support associated with it.”
Novell sees 2004 as the year when large scale Linux adoption, both in the
enterprise server and desktop space. The keynote sessions were peppered with
digs at Microsoft and Novell is set to challenge Microsoft even in the desktop
area. Red Hat, the largest Linux distribution vendor is the other target.
“Clearly, we want to be the number 1 in Linux market too,” said
The acquisitions, the announcements of roadmaps of various product families,
and the announcement of OES-taken together present a new market opportunity to
Novell. Traditionally seen as a product and engineering focused company, Messman
announced a reversal. He said, “We are turning customer backward from being
lab forward-Â that is, learning from customers what they want rather than
finding customers for the products that the lab produces.” The management
teams have been reportedly regrouped and new customer management methodologies
have been put in place to deliver this strategy.
To articulate its claim to the Linux market, the BrainShare keynote had a
guest none less than Linus Torvalds, the progenitor of Linux, whose presence was
kept a surprise till he was called for a short tÃªte-Ã -tÃªte. Torvalds was his
usual geeky self. He revealed that he was working on a new Linux kernel and
expected that the focus of Linux for the next few years will be the desktop. But
the open source community has one cause to worry: when a Linux distribution like
SuSE falls into the hands of a commercial software company, whether innovation
and unfettered sharing of code, both hallmarks of the open source movement,
would get stalled. Especially so, when Novell is borrowing product features from
the open source world for its own line of products and converging its product
families with Suse’s line-up. For example, in the area of resource management
Yast, ZenWorks, and Red Carpet would be combined into one solution. Messman
assured the open source camp that their fears were unfounded.
Said Messman, “We would give more to the open source community than what
we take away.”
For instance, Novell has put out its product iFolder to the open source.
From the point of view of reaching out to the market, Novell’s
relationships with independent software vendors and independent hardware vendors
would be revitalized, revealed Jack Messman, chairman and CEO, Novell.
Vindicating this statement, Novell announced two partnerships that could turn
out to be key in its overall plan of expanding the SUSE Linux footprint into the
Significantly, Novell today announced an expanded commercial agreement with
IBM, which enables IBM to ship or preload SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with the
entire range of IBM’s servers comprising iSeries, pSeries, xSeries, zSeries
and eServer BladeCenter systems. Previously, IBM had this agreement directly
with SUSE. The agreement gives Novell a new channel for market access through
IBM on its part has been promoting Linux through its relationships with both
SUSE and Red Hat and has been a major force in moving Linux into the higher end
of the enterprise market. Said Jim Stallings, general manager-Linux, IBM,
“We have embarked on a 40-city road-show promoting Linux and one of the
things that we have been demonstrating is NT to Linux migration. Similarly we
are also planning a Exchange to GroupWise (Novell’s groupware brand)
Novell’s partnership with HP too has been expanded to cover select HP
Compaq client systems.Â Â HP has already hit a sweet spot in selling
Linux-based systems. According to IDC, in 2003, HP led the market in revenues
and shipments for x86 and Itanium-based Linux servers. Even in Q4, HP’s market
share for x86 and Itanium-based Linux servers in unit shipments stood at 27% and
42 % respectively. Novell can now look at getting a piece of this action in
expanding the Linux market.
Novell’s agreement builds upon HP’s existing certification of Novell SUSE
Linux across HP Proliant and Integrity servers, storage, software, and services.
With the agreement. Novell SUSE Linux will become HP’s standard Linux
distribution across its business desktop and notebook PCs in North America
immediately and the other geographies to be soon added. Previously HP had also
provided a Linux indemnity program for qualified customers similar to Novell
offering an indemnity program in January. The indemnity programs give a measure
of legal protection to Linux customers. Though the indemnity programs offered by
HP and Novell differ in their content, it is reported that they are
complementary and not conflicting.
Novell had earlier announced a new, comprehensive partner program that will
bring under one umbrella the company’s products, solutions, and technology and
training partner relationships. Upon the SUSE acquisition in November, Novell
has inherited 560 global partners that belonged to SUSE and these would get
added to Novell’s partner network. The new partner programÂ and the
alliances with HP and IBM are instrumental for the success of Novell’s market
expansion fro its expanded product offerings in the NetWare and Linux areas.
Iishwar Daas Nair at Salt Lake
Novell to Enhance Global Support Activity Anchored Out of India
Despite the general backlash against outsourcing to India and other
countries, US organizations still find value in farming out key business
activities like software development, customer service management, technical
support, product development, R&D amongst others. At BrainShare, Jack
Messman, chairman and CEO, announced the intention ofÃ‚Â continuing to
leverage India and its capabilities in many areas. In an exclusive interview
with Cyber News Service, Messman revealed, ‘A few months ago,Ã‚Â we had
an India Day back here at our headquarters specifically to look at India and the
opportunities it can offer.’
To start with, beginning May 2004, Onward Novell, a 50:50 joint venture with
Onward Network Technologies and Novell Inc. would handle global customer support
to include customer from the US too. Hitherto, as part of Asia Pacific region,
Onward Novell has been rendering this service for APAC clients. This would be
now enhanced to handle a larger share of the global technical support activity
for Novell and its customers. Novell already has invested in a R&D and
product development center in India, based at Bangalore, since 1994. The center
has over 350 engineers handling leading-edge product development for the NetWare
family. Post the acquisition of SUSE and Ximian, some of the new developments in
the open-source and Linux area would also happen out of Bangalore.
Novell’s Way into Web Services and Secure Identity Management
With the SilverStream acquisition, Novell has managed to bolster up its Web
services offering. Its application platform suite now comprises a J2EE-based
application server, an XML-based integration server, and a portal server for
delivery of applications. ‘The key goal is to provide an end-to-end
solution for building a service-oriented architecture using visual tools for
each step,’ said Ashish Larivee of Novell. She revealed that Novell is
working on developing tools and pre-built components for applications like
identity management, building provisioning type of applications, and building
identity-based applications and services. Towards this, the security and
application development teams at Novell started collaborative development a year
back and the group even won an award at LinuxWorld in January for the new
version of its product.
Novell has been famous for its directory offering, now called eDirectory.
This provides the identity foundation to manage authentication and
authorization. Voted as the market leader by a recent Meta Group report on
directory services, the next version is expected to ship in the third quarter
this year. By putting a meta-directory on top with connectors for data
transformation and objects to share data- this becomes a hub for identity-based
services. Said Larivee, ‘ By adding centralized secure login, identity
management applications and policy management, identities can be
synchronized.’ Along with provisioning and de-provisioning, this forms the
base for secure identity management.