Linux gets big boost from Novell

Novell Inc. says it is continuing its push for open platform computing with the release of new systems management and collaboration offerings for Linux.

Last month at its Brainshare user conference in Salt Lake City, the vendor introduced Zenworks 7, a new version of its systems management product.

In his opening keynote, Novell CEO Jack Messman said Zenworks 7, which enables organizations to manage their Windows workstations from a Linux platform, offers “policy-driven resource management” to automatically maintain and enforce business and IT policies. It also manages and maintains resources based on user and device identities, he said.

Messman said the suite is the “first to offer complete lifecycle management of Linux systems” — organizations can now centrally manage their Windows and Linux assets from whatever server platform they choose.

According to Novell, the suite offers imaging, configuration lockdown, remote management, inventory and software management tools for deploying, managing and maintaining Linux in IT environments. Zenworks 7 also supports Novell Open Enterprise Server and enhancements to the desktop, server and handheld management products.

Collaboration is another area where Novell is expanding its Linux presence. The vendor recently announced its long-term plans for its GroupWise collaboration suite: the next version, code-named Sequoia, will be released in the summer of 2005, followed by Aspen and Cedar, targeted for fall 2006 and spring 2008, respectively.

According to Novell, Sequoia will include enhanced client code for Windows, Macintosh, Linux and the Web, support for Microsoft Outlook, and new SOAP/XML interfaces to support integration of GroupWise with services-oriented application architectures.

Novell said it will also bundle Sequoia with Suse Linux Enterprise Server. The vendor said making Groupwise available on Linux will give customers a more secure and reliable collaboration platform and provide a lower-cost alternative to legacy collaboration solutions.

Meanwhile, Novell has a new open source collaboration project on the go, code-named Hula, through which the vendor is donating source code from its Netmail product to create a new collaboration server software product for customers who want an open source collaboration tool for any platform. Hula will offer e-mail, calendar and address-book capabilities.

For those customers who want to stick with Groupwise, Novell said it would also extend support for the product through 2015.

In a press conference after the keynote, Messman explained, “Just because we have some things going on in open source, we will not abandon Groupwise.” Messman said this year’s Brainshare announcements are evidence Novell is continuing to work on getting Linux into the mainstream on the enterprise server, given that CIO interest in the open source platform is increasing; from desktops to data centres.

Corinne Arnott, a Web developer with St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto who attended Brainshare, said Linux definitely has a presence in her organization’s server environment. Although the hospital is “very much a Novell shop” and runs Netware 6.5 on its authentication servers, she said St. Michael’s was “just starting with Linux,” with plans to roll out Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 on its clinical workstation servers at the end of March.

Arnott said the hospital already has “quite a mixed environment” that includes Netware, IBM AS/400, as well as Windows-based clinical systems and applications. She added that anything new coming in will probably be Linux-based.

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