In its first move since being acquired by Novell, SuSE announced that its enterprise Linux software will be sold and supported by Gateway in a partnership aimed at seizing more of the U.S. server market, particularly among small- to medium-size businesses.
Novell’s purchase of SuSE Linux earlier this month has sparked varied speculation about how — or even whether — Novell will fuse its desktop software with SuSE’s servers for end-to-end Linux solutions.
SuSE Linux spokesperson Joe Eckert told TechNewsWorld that although the deal with Gateway involves standard and enterprise Linux servers only, the now Novell-owned company will seek similar deals for desktop Linux, which both companies offer.
“We certainly see synergies between what we offer on the desktop,” Eckert said. “We’re looking to work with Gateway and other OEMs, and our wish is to have some similar desktop deals as well.”
Gateway to America
Germany-based SuSE’s Eckert, who cited previous server deals with HP and Fujitsu, said the deal is aimed at getting SuSE Linux on as many servers as possible.
“This is another opportunity for choice on hardware,” he said. “Gateway has a nice U.S. presence that we like.”
The deal will mean Gateway sales and support of SuSE Linux across its entire line of enterprise-class servers. Gateway, which will offer one-year maintenance and services for patches and updates, said it will provide a single point of contact for support on all Gateway hardware and SuSE software.
Aberdeen Group research director Bill Claybrook told TechNewsWorld that the deal might make Linux more attractive to small- and medium-size businesses looking for preloaded Linux.
“A vendor like Gateway to make Linux available on all of its platforms is pretty significant,” Claybrook said. “It means anyone who may not have thought about buying Linux can order something easy.”
Claybrook said the deal, which eventually could mean Novell products on Gateway hardware, would be sweeter if there were an accompanying desktop component to give users a full Linux package, including desktop, server and applications such as browser and e-mail.
Both SuSE and its new parent Novell offer desktop Linux software, but the bulk of SuSE’s success has been in servers, and Novell’s intentions — with its Ximian and NetWare desktop software — remain unclear at this point.
Claybrook — who said Dell, IBM and HP are doing “gangbusters” business in the small- and medium-size business market — indicated the deal might help Gateway get needed share there.
“There’s the potential to impact the SMB market,” he said.
Gateway senior vice president and GM of the enterprise systems division Scott Weinbrandt, who praised SuSE Linux for its security standards, said, “Businesses of all sizes are increasingly looking to the security, flexibility and cost savings of Linux-based solutions to address IT needs throughout their organizations.”
Yankee Group senior analyst Dana Gardner told TechNewsWorld that Novell’s SuSE Linux acquisition brings Novell into a higher position of attention and gives the company the option of leveraging its Ximian desktop success with accompanying server software from SuSE.
Gardner, who praised such a strategy, which has not yet been officially proclaimed by Novell, said the company had nothing to lose by parlaying its Linux desktop and server offerings together.
Claybrook, who predicted the SuSE-Gateway deal will help Linux on the desktop, said he expects to see Linux products playing off of one another as the open-source operating system continues making inroads into smaller-size business markets.
“When Linux on the desktop starts becoming similarly popular, we’ll see a hefty spike in the sales of Linux servers,” he said. “That’s how Microsoft did it.”
Claybrook added that customers are looking for combination desktop and server solutions, and he pointed out that such an offering from the same vendor could end up becoming an attractive option for customers if accompanied by the right software.