Novell channel man speaks

"We've taken a battering, but we're bouncing back"

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Ben Bulpett, enterprise director at Novell UK, is looking to recruit new resellers in the middle ground between its traditional high-end business from Novell resellers and lower-end deals from SUSE partners. He said the company had "taken a battering, but we're back and better for it."

He believes Linux is making progress on smaller networks and for massive projects while Novell has traditionally been most active in the larger corporate accounts. But he warned that he would be prepared to remove partners who were not "cutting the mustard". He said pure licensing houses will have problems but claimed few resellers fall into that category anymore.

SUSE and Novell resellers currently have different channel programmes but the two will be brought together by the end of Novell's financial year in October. Top-rated resellers on either programme can join the other scheme for free.

Bulpett said there was little overlap between the two groups of resellers: "SUSE's partners are small and focussed rather than Novell's usual suspects. We are actively looking for resellers in that middle space."

He sees two hot markets for Linux this year - government contracts and financial institutions. The British government, through the Office of Government Commerce and the Office of the e-Envoy, is running eight proof of concept studies to evaluate Linux. The OGC is looking to cut £3bn from government costs by 2005-2006. The National Health service is also piloting open source software.

Bulpett told The Register: "There are a number of sizeable pilots going on at the moment and these big, enterprise projects will help drive the market."

Asked how Microsoft will respond to this changing market, he said: "Microsoft is becoming a lonely voice on this. Microsoft as a company has been good at taking out competing companies. But Linux isn't a company, it's a community, culturally that is hard to take on... Changes to Microsoft licensing will have to happen but it will be hard to convince shareholders." ®

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