HP Has Got Novell’s Back

CUPERTINO, Calif. — With the release of SUSE Linux Enterprise 10, Novell has a mighty big ally backing it up in the form of Hewlett-Packard. The IT giant, currently riding a wave of renewed momentum, has thrown its support behind SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop and Server, both released Monday.

Linux has grown from 16 percent of worldwide server shipments in 2003 to 20 percent in 2005, according to IDC figures, while proprietary Unix has taken a tumble from 13 percent to nine percent in the same time frame.

There are still concerns on the part of enterprise customers. A 2005 survey by Forrester Research found that 60 percent of those surveyed were concerned with what they felt was a lack of support available for Linux.

It’s this support that HP  is touting. It has 6,500 personnel dedicated to Linux support, who also use it as part of their daily jobs. “Every single employee here touches Linux every single day, many times,” said Christine Martino, vice president of the Linux and open source group at HP, during a media event here at the HP campus.

Its SUSE Linux support will be extensive. Enterprise Server 10 is available across the ProLiant line of servers and BladeSystem servers now, with Integrity support by September. Enterprise Desktop 10 will be on selected HP desktops and laptops.

Plus, HP has its Developer and Solution Partner Program (DSPP), which is designed to port enterprise applications to Linux, with HP offering development and testing support during the porting process. The company estimates that every partner it helps port their applications to Linux is worth another 10 points of marketshare.

HP’s efforts put it in a neck-and-neck race with IBM for leadership in the enterprise Linux space, said George Weiss, vice president for The Gartner Group.

“They’re very good at technical support,” he said. “I’ve heard from clients who’ve said they were very pleased with HP’s ability to support Linux across the boundaries of the enterprise. IBM gets a lot of the credit but HP is very good at it, too.”

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