BrainShare: Novell launches

Novell Inc. kicked off its BrainShare 2006 event in Salt Lake City on Monday with several announcements around the company’s strategy to deliver a complete open source platform for the enterprise.

Topping the series of announcements was the launch of the SUSE Linux Enterprise 10, envisioned to provide organizations with the benefits of an open source and open standards-based architecture.

The platform includes the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, which Novell chairman and CEO Jack Messman claimed would ultimately lower operating costs and provide better choice for the enterprise.

Last year, Novell launched the Open Enterprise Server (OES) designed to provide dual-kernel support for both Novell NetWare and Linux. The OES was also viewed as a bridge for NetWare users to gradually migrate to the Linux platform.

“Today Linux is ready for the data centre. With the new security, virtualization and workflow readiness features of SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 we believe Linux is ready for primetime,” said Messman.

The Novell executive added, however, that although Linux will be actively promoted among its customers, support for NetWare 6.5 will continue until 2015.

Also announced at BrainShare 2006 was Novell’s new bundled offering for its open source-based products called Open WorkGroup Suite, which includes the Linux version of the OES, Novell’s collaboration tool GroupWise, asset management resource ZenWorks Suite, Linux Enterprise Desktop and OpenOffice.

The Open WorkGroup Suite was designed to give customers an end-to-end tool at “very friendly” price points comparable to Microsoft’s similar bundled offering, according to Troy Wilde, Novell’s product manager for OES. For existing NetWare users, the upgrade price for the Open WorkGroup Suite, supporting multiple platforms on the server side and all platforms on the client side, is US$150 per user, with annual maintenance cost of US$106 per user per year.

Novell also launched a beta version of the GroupWise Mobile Server powered by Intellisync, which brings Novell’s collaboration tools to over 400 handheld mobile devices running on Palm OS, Symbian, Windows Mobile, SmartPhone, PocketPC and SyncML.

Promising better functionality and increased security, GroupWise Mobile Server gives users the experience of desktop collaboration through push functionality, said Philip Karren, Novell product manager for GroupWise.

“People have all this rich, collaborative functionality at their desktop, but as soon as they walk away from their desktop to do some other parts of their job, they can’t collaborate anymore,” explained Karren. “There’s a huge need to keep collaborating anytime, anywhere.”

Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 announcement is a “very good direction” for NetWare customers, according to Warren Shiau, senior associate at Toronto-based market research firm The Strategic Counsel. While SUSE Linux can also appeal to non-Novell shops, the market is not seeing any “big migration” trend in favour of open source technologies, he said.

For Linux to gain traction among the enterprise, Novell needs to maximize the potential of channel partners to bring in business, said Shiau.

“[Novell] would have to do something like Microsoft did for NT – make [Linux] a better selling proposition for the channel or at least an equivalent selling proposition for the channel,” explained Shiau.

But any dramatic shift in the market, particularly around the potential of the Linux desktop to displace Microsoft, is not expected to happen over a short period of time, he said.

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