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Novell's Show of Support for Linux

Novell has announced comprehensive support for SuSE and Ximian on desktops, servers and laptops to allay CIOs' concerns about introducing Linux into the enterprise.

Under six levels of premium service, customers will have access to 600 Linux engineers (nearly 70 percent of them are field technicians) from 10 support centers worldwide.

"Customers making the move to open source, including Linux, need assurance that there will not be a decrease in the level of support they are accustomed to," Christine Tenneson, system support services product manager at research firm IDC, said in a statement.

Unlike its competitors, namely Red Hat , Novell officials said new support contracts won't need to be drafted up when new servers are added to the network.

Novell also added a new support for small and medium businesses (SMBs). It lets them buy single-server support on SuSE Linux Enterprise Server rather than committing to enterprise-grade support contracts.

For larger outfits, Novell launched the Small Business Linux Support initiative, for small-scale desktop and server product support of SuSE and Ximian applications. Products covered include Red Carpet Enterprise, SuSE Linux Enterprise and Standard Server, OpenExchange Server, Ximian Desktop and Connector for Microsoft Exchange.

The Exchange connector was released as an open source download Tuesday. The tool lets Ximian Evolution -- a Unix- and Linux-based groupware application -- users work in a Microsoft Exchange 2000/2003 environment. It's the latest step by Novell to give companies a reason to incorporate Linux into an otherwise Microsoft-dominated environment. Novell officials said an integrated connector would appear in the forthcoming Evolution 2.0 edition.

Novell has been moving towards increased support for the entire Linux deployment for some time, culminating in the March announcement to work with HP to deliver support on HP's Intel-based hardware line.

"A lot of the stuff we've been doing -- indemnification, premium support, these sorts of things around Linux -- all of these are pieces, that taken together provide a stronger comfort level for organizations looking to move onto Linux in a serious way," said Novell spokesman Bruce Lowry. "Generally, it is the type of thing that over time will contribute to a greater peace of mind for CIOs and other technology buyers."