Novell emphasizes integration with Suse Linux 11

SALT LAKE CITY – At the company’s annual Brainshare conference, Novell Inc. announced new development plans for what is arguably its flagship product, Suse Linux Enterprise 11.

The company said the new release will aim to harmoniously integrate mixed-IT environments allowing people and technology to work as one. Novell outlined a broad focus for the Suse Linux Enterprise release which includes supporting appliance development and low-latency computing in the data centre, helping customers looking for easier Unix to Linux migration, leveraging of Xen technologies to deliver virtualization, helping realize the benefits of green IT and increasing interoperability for Windows optimization.

“Suse 11 for us is going to be a continuation of our effort to make sure we have a world-class enterprise Linux distribution for the customer,” Ron Hovespian, president and CEO at Novell, told ComputerWorld Canada. “Underneath it, what we’ve done is mapped out several new areas to continue to develop the toolsets that go into that and to develop the feeder systems to other management toolsets that allow Linux to go to that next level.”

Hovespian said that while much of the enterprise Linux adoption has been on the server side, Novell’s focus on more core applications, richer toolsets, and wider availability will help the traction of Desktop Linux. The Novell chief also pointed to the company’s most recent partnership with HP Inc. – a deal which will see the Palo Alto, Calif.-based software giant preload Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop on its laptops and desktops – as another step toward addressing this issue.

Richard Giroux, IT manager at Vancouver-based Whitelaw Twining Law Corporation, said he currently uses Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop as well as VMware services in his IT environment and was encouraged to hear about Novell’s focus on interoperability and expanded virtualization support. “We need better non-commercial support,” Giroux said. “It’s the reality nowadays that people expect things to work coming out of the box. So, Novell needs to work on whatever licensing they can so that Desktop Linux works with everything just like Windows desktops do.”

And much of these same themes were expressed throughout the entire conference, as Novell unveiled a new company strategy centering heavily on the idea of “agility in IT.”

“Enterprise computing will change and Novell will be at the centre of it because of our market position,” Jeff Jaffe, executive vice-president and CTO, said during his keynote speech. “We have experience in open source, enterprise computing, partnerships, and interoperability. Almost any CEO will tell you that IT infrastructure is anything but agile. Our vision is to fix that in the data centre and make IT infrastructure flexible.”

Jaffe called Novell’s new philosophy the “Fossa Project” – which aims to turn compute infrastructure into collaboration infrastructure. This includes a focus on new enhancements to its virtualization, Linux, orchestration, policy, identity, compliance, and collaboration tools. In a nutshell, Novell wants to allow users the freedom to work more efficiently with both physical and virtual machines along with the integration of its management tools, identity services, collaboration software, and open source operating systems.

The company named the strategy after the agile Madagascan animal of the same name. “If you Google ‘agile animal’ you get Fossa,” Jaffe said jokingly. “But we like it because it can stand for ‘Free and Open Source Software with Agility. ‘”

But despite the new buzzword, one of the challenges the company will inevitably continue to face is trying to match up its Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) platform against the near total enterprise monopoly of Microsoft’s Windows. Roger Levy, senior vice-president and general manager of Open Platform Solutions for Novell, said that while it has been an uphill battle against Microsoft’s 95 to 96 per cent market share, Novell’s Linux platform has made significant strides.

“We’ve come out with the only enterprise grade Linux desktop that has support and quality,” Levy said. “With SLED 10, we’ve experienced a strong rollout worldwide and we are now at the stage of having it preloads on many devices. Lenovo is shipping it on its T Series. Dell is also shipping it preloaded.”

Hovespian agreed, calling SLED 10 a definite success for the Novell and its customers.

“When I can turn around and see large enterprises like PSA Peugeot Citro

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