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Novell ‘puts entire ecosystem behind Linux’

CEO downplays SCO derailment risk

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Novell fleshed out its commitment to open platform computing - and played down the significance of SCO's Linux lawsuit - at BrainShare in Barcelona today.

Driving the adoption of Linux in the enterprise is central to its plans to return to profit while reaffirming its commitment to maintain support for its own NetWare operating system, the company says.

Jack Messman, chairman and chief executive of Novell, (repeatedly) told delegates "we are not abandoning NetWare, we are adding Linux. It's all about choice for the customer."

"We believe in heterogeneous systems because its too expensive to rip and replace," he added.

At the conference, Novell executives pointed to the "traction of Linux in Europe" - particularly in the government and financial services markets - as reasons for optimism about a quick return to profitability.

Last month Novell offloaded one in 10 workers after announcing disappointing Q3 revenues. Messman said that the job cuts would "not undermine Novell's ability to execute" and predicted a return to profitability in Q4 2004. He characterised the company's restructuring programme as a kind of blessing in disguise because itenable Novell to change its skills-set to better suit business objectives.

Messman believes the growth of the Linux market is unlikely to be affected by SCO's controversial licensing claims, which he expects will ultimately fail.

"The SCO lawsuit puts a little cloud on the horizon, but most companies are going ahead with Linux in any case," Messman told The Register. "There's a compelling economic argument for open source. There's cost benefits in reduced licensing fees even if they [SCO] win, which we doubt.

"We don't believe it [SCO's lawsuit] will be successful," he added.

Messman praised the open source development model which he said would ultimately lead to lower costs, whilst allowing firms like Novell to release commercial products that add value "higher up the stack".

"We're putting our entire ecosystem behind Linux," said.

Open source flora and fauna

At Brainshare today, Novell put down some markers for its Linux development roadmap.

Novell announced beta testing Novell Nterprise Linux Services, a bundle of file, print, messaging, directory and management services for Linux from the middle of next month. Nterprise Linux Services 1.0, due later this year, will include management services from Ximian Red Carpet, following Novell's recent acquisition of the open source developer.

The company also announced the open beta availability in early October of Novell Nterprise Branch Office 2, which is designed to make it easier for organisations to roll out network services to their branch offices securely and inexpensively.

With application developers in mind, Novell pointed towards the forthcoming beta (scheduled for early October) of its exteNd 5 Web services development environment.

An updated version of the vendor's identity management technology - Novell Nsure SecureLogin 3.5 - is pencilled in for an October 17 launch. Nsure SecureLogin 3.5 allows single sign-on across multiple platforms and the Web, helping to ease password management headaches.

"It's time to throw away the post-in notes," commented Chris Stone, Novell's vice chairman, referring to the insecure practice of workers writing hard-to-remember multiple passwords on notes affixed to their PCs. ®

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