Microsoft “Buys” Telkom, says Novell

National telecoms provider Telkom
announced yesterday that it is to replace its existing Novell system
with the Microsoft Windows 2000 operating system, leading to
charges by Novell SA’s MD that Microsoft is willing to “buy
business” in a desperate bid to gain credibility for its Windows 2000
operating system.

Responding to Telkom’s announcement, Novell’s Richard
Breytagh lashed out at Microsoft’s “monopolistic” business
practices, saying that the software company is willing to “buy
business” at any cost to itself.

After reviewing proposals from both companies, Telkom opted for a
three-year project to swap the current Novell-based network
operating system, directory services and “Netware” solutions with a
Microsoft Windows 2000-based solutions. Telkom claims that this arrangement will save R45-million over three-years in reduced maintenance costs.

Prior to Telkom’s announcement, Breytagh launched a scathing
attack on the Windows 2000 operating system.
“For a company the size of Telkom to place its operations on
something that is as untested as Windows2000 would be
irresponsible, to say the least,” Breytagh commented.
“Besides requiring new hardware, Windows 2000 is still an untested
environment, and the Active Directory currently holds zero percent
of the market share,” he explained.

Breytagh dismissed suggestions that the Windows 2000 system
would represent a more efficient system than the Novell system.
“If it can be proven that Microsoft products out-perform and
provide more than
Novell can, then I will be happy to concede the
account,” he responded. “But we aren’t even on a level playing field
here, we cannot compete with products that are given away for
free.”

“Microsoft Spin Won’t Fool All”

Despite this, Breytagh believes that other companies will not be so
easily duped by the Microsoft spin machine.
“Similar large companies are not being fooled by what is happening
at Telkom and have seen through Microsofts marketing exploitation
of the evaluation exercise.” he says.
Breytagh believes that having awarded the contract to Microsoft, the
telecoms company will now be locked into the Microsoft
environment having curtailed their own ability to choose between
best-of-breed solutions.

As a final swipe at Microsoft, Breytagh alleges that the company is
now targeting countries such as South Africa not as advanced in
their anti-monopoly legislation, having been brought to book for
similar offences overseas.
He revealed that a feature of the Telkom proposal was the fact that
it included a number of “bundled” products.
“Although the customer is already using the same products from
other vendors, it is being forced to consider those included in the
bu

ndled package in the interests of keeping costs down.”

In terms of the deal, the conversion process will take three-years
after which Telkom will assess the success of the new desktop
operating system.
According to Telkom’s Managing Executive of IT, Jyoti Desai, her
company will be negotiating a three-year committal contract with
Microsoft, with the option to extend the contract for two subsequent
years at the same cost.

Desai explained yesterday that the shift in operating systems will
reduce costs and simplify systems management in the long-term.
“Once the solution is fully implemented we expect an annual saving
of around R25-million,” she revealed.

“Telkom will assess Windows2000 in 1st Year”

Both Novell and Microsoft have maintained contracts with Telkom
for some while already, albeit with Microsoft having a larger stake in
Telkom business gaining R45-million, as opposed to the R10-million
that Novell currently earn from the telecoms company.
The systems from both companies frequently overlap in the Telkom
operating environment, notably in the Network Operating System,
email and systems management environments.

Telkom has not yet responded to allegations that operating system
efficiency will be compromised under this new initiative in order to
achieve lower costs.
The company did reveal, however, that the project will initially
consist of a year-long design, architecture, test and pilot phase,
following which the system will be fully implemented provided that
Microsoft adhere to specific criteria.
These include satisfactory performance, training, systems integration,
user impact, reliability, availability and system management.

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