Novell Touts Linux With New Marketing Campaign

On the heels of its recent Suse Linux Enterprise 10 platform release, Novell said it would put its marketing money where its mouth is with a multimedia ad campaign for Linux.

The campaign, dubbed “Your Linux is Ready,” will be backed by the company’s entire fourth quarter advertising budget and will continue through the end of the year.

The initiative represents an effort to reverse Novell’s history of lackluster marketing, Novell Director of Product Marketing Justin Steinman told LinuxInsider. It is a clear sign of Novell’s new direction, which is focused not on multiple platforms, but squarely on Linux and open source software, he said.

“We are out there for the first time marketing Linux aggressively for Novell,” he said. “The market wants one message from Novell, and it wants it to be Linux.”

Making Moves

Novell made a number of announcements at the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco this week as it touted more than 150,000 downloads of Suse Linux Enterprise Server and 170,000 downloads of Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop, both of which were released with the Suse Linux Enterprise 10 rollout last month.

That release also included Xen virtualization technology, and has been viewed by many as Novell’s start of a turnaround effort following some major management shakeups and market confusion over the company’s overall direction.

At LinuxWorld, Novell said it has sealed a deal with RealNetworks to release open source software supporting Windows Media files on Linux computers. The firm also said it has agreed to support Lenovo notebook computers running Suse Linux. This last announcement marks the first time a major hardware vendor is supporting Linux on laptops.

Novell’s new “Your Linux is Ready” campaign will feature online and print advertisements in IT publications, and is aimed at giving credit to the open source software community for its work on the OS. The Linux marketing campaign includes such phrases as, “They made it cool, we made it ready.”

Joining Novell in delivering the pro-Linux marketing message is Intel, which is spending significant amounts of its own marketing budget on virtualization technology, Steinman said.

Competing the Windows Way

Since Linux is competing primarily against Windows in enterprise data centers, it is only fitting that Linux backers promote the platform the way Microsoft promotes Windows, which is heavily advertised in the technology and mainstream media, Interarbor Solutions Principal Analyst Dana Gardner told LinuxInsider.

He called Novell’s new marketing push an indicator of a maturing Linux market. He also pointed out, however, that there is a difference between downloads of Linux and the support and service that companies such as Novell and Red Hat are selling.

Novell needs to reverse its track record as a poor marketer, Gardner said, and the firm’s leadership changes and release of a new Linux platform mean this may be a good time to try.

“Perhaps in branding and marketing the major differences” between Linux and Windows, the way Linux is perceived and received will change, he said. “It probably makes a lot of sense right now.”

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