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Dude, You're Getting Suse Linux Enterprise Server

By Chris Maxcer
May 7, 2007 1:26 PM PT

Dell has jumped on board the Microsoft-Novell collaboration to deliver Suse Linux to enterprise customers.

Dude, You're Getting Suse Linux Enterprise Server

The Microsoft-Novell agreement, announced last November, is designed to let the two companies jointly build, market and support solutions that improve interoperability between Microsoft Windows solutions and Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise-based offerings.

Dell, as the first major systems provider, will purchase Suse Linux Enterprise Server certificates from Microsoft. In addition, Dell will establish a customer marketing team for migrating Linux users -- who are not already Dell Linux customers -- to Suse Linux Enterprise Server. The marketing effort will focus on three areas: interoperability workshops, migration proofs of concept and migration services.

Dell currently offers customers Red Hat Linux solutions, too, and this announcement will not likely change that.

"This deal makes sense for Dell -- because it basically makes sense for Dell to offer anything that their customers want -- which is becoming a standby for the company," Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT, told LinuxInsider. "I don't see it as surprising, but it does drive home the idea that Dell is serious about providing Linux support for customers."

All About the Customers

"Dell's embrace of the Novell-Microsoft agreement reflects a growing market reality: The two platforms of the future are Linux and Windows, and customers want them to work better together," said Susan Heystee, vice president and general manager of global strategic alliances at Novell. "Novell continues to grow our Suse Linux Enterprise business because we are addressing customer needs."

By jumping in with Microsoft and Novell, Dell is also playing with a double-edged sword. On one edge, Dell can offer a version of Linux that Microsoft won't litigate over due to possible intellectual property issues -- the facts of which Novell hasn't conceded, but may influence enterprise Linux roll-outs nonetheless. This, of course, lets Dell access new Linux customers who may shy away from other Linux implementations.

On the other side of the sword, Dell joins two companies that many Linux enthusiasts see as an enemy of the very ideas behind open source Linux.

In the announcement, none of the companies said their intent was to switch existing Dell customers to Suse.

"The Novell-Microsoft partnership isn't particularly popular with Linux enthusiasts, but that market has been flat for several years now -- and these folks aren't likely to buy from Dell anyway," Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, told LinuxInsider.

Microsoft and Dell

"Most of Dell's business is related to Microsoft, and this would suggest that most of their existing customer base is largely Windows ... [so] their best opportunity with Linux would be in mixed Windows/Linux sites," Enderle explained.

"It would then follow that they would be most interested in solutions that were more focused on Windows/Linux interoperability than Linux pure plays because they would be better positioned to compete," he added.

Novell and Dell

"From a potential business standpoint, this could be good news for Novell," King said. "They've had some problems with deriving as much success from the Suse acquisition as many folks would have assumed they should, so getting a contract with the company that's still the largest business PC provider in the U.S. could potentially drive some good business for Novell."

Since the announcement, more than 40,000 new certificates for three-year priority support subscriptions to Suse Linux Enterprise Server have been activated under the Microsoft and Novell collaboration agreement, Novell said. AIG Technologies, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, HSBC and Wal-Mart Stores are among the first companies taking advantage of the benefits of the interoperability agreement between Microsoft and Novell.


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