RealTime IT News

Novell Roadmap is Heavy On Linux

By Jacqueline Emigh

SALT LAKE CITY -- Novell is looking to bridge its NetWare past with its Linux future, the company said Monday.

The Provo, Utah-based network integrator kicked off its annual BrainShare conference here complete with a roadmap heavy on Linux and open source, across enterprise servers, desktops, tools, and even relationships with ISVs.

"It's been a good year," Novell Chairman and CEO Jack Messman said at the top of his keynote. Messman pointed back to a year in which Novell, once best known for its NetWare network operating system, barreled full-speed ahead into Linux, buying up major players that included SUSE Linux and Ximian.

Now, however, Novell plans to help "drive (Linux) from the periphery to the data center," Messman maintained in his keynote. "2004 will be the year Linux goes mainstream on Linux servers." Novell also plans "very tight integration" between its server and desktop products.

"There isn't a lot of profit in the Linux OS itself," Messman acknowledged, at a press conference later. Novell, though, expects to make money with "up-the-stack services," he said, giving file, print and directory services as a couple of examples.

"We have a very attractive product for ISVs, because of the (Linux) growth rate," said Novell Vice Chairman Chris Nolan, also during the press conference. "Applications are being written by customers."

Nolan also noted today that, though an internal "Open Desktop Initiative," Novell will get all its employees "on to Open Office and off of Microsoft Office" by this summer.

"We can't with a straight face ask you to do this unless we've been through it ourselves," he said.

In a Q&A session with Messman and Nolan after the two keynotes, Linux guru Linus Torvalds was asked what he'd do differently, if he had a chance to "do it all over again."

"What I did do right was to make 'it' non-proprietary," Torvalds quipped.

Novell first articulated its change of heart toward Linux at last year's BrainShare, saying at the time that, within the next two years, Novell would make its NetWare Services available on top of Linux as well as the NetWare. With Open Enterprise Server, a product rolled out today, Novell has been able to "move that up by a year," Messman said at today's press conference.

"(But) we didn't own SUSE at the time," chimed in Nolan. Yet Novell officials insisted that Novell's increasing thrust toward Linux doesn't mean NetWare's demise.

"Let's debunk a few myths," according to Nolan. "Linux doesn't spell the end of proprietary OS as we know them." he said. On the other hand, though, "It doesn't make sense to (be limited) to either pure proprietary or open source software."

In the open source arena, Novell also introduced the YaST (yet another setup tool) and Novell iFolder open source projects.

The company also announced that the public beta of its ZenWorks 6.5 system management software will include ZenWorks Patch Management as well as Ximian Red Carpet Enterprise.

In yet another announcement at BrainShare, Novell said its next generation of identity management services will be based on the open source Eclipse Framework. Novell first made known its Eclipse membership during LinuxWorld in January.