Novell still feisty as it pushes Linux alternatives to Microsoft for SMBs

Novell still feisty as it pushes Linux alternatives to Microsoft for SMBs

While Novell's partnership with Microsoft remains the subject of controversy, the NetWare-cum-Linux vendor is still pushing out Linux and open source products aimed at taking market share away from its patent-protection partner.

This fall, Novell is expected to release a package of Linux desktop and server offerings aimed at small businesses.

The package will include SUSE Enterprise Linux Server and Novell's Open Enterprise Server, the company's hybrid Linux/NetWare offering. This will include end-user rights management, server failover and network administration tools. On the desktop, end-users will get SUSE Enterprise Linux Desktop, with packages including OpenOffice and GroupWise e-mail, calendar and groupware tools.

Novell is taking clear aim at its partner Microsoft with the offering. It says the 200-seat, four-server Novell Open Workgroup Suite Small Business Edition will give more bang for the buck compared to Microsoft's Small Business Server package, which only supports 75 users, and does not include desktop applications such as Office.

This kind of sniping by Novell against Microsoft was common in the past. But the relationship between Novell and Microsoft around Linux patent protection introduces a new wrinkle. The deal, struck last fall, allows the two companies to share intellectual property, and protects each company's customer base from lawsuits against the other vendor. So far, the competitive juices still seem to be flowing inside Novell, as it attempts to take on Microsoft with its planned fall launch. If more of such initiatives by Novell emerge, and find market success, could we expect to see a change in terms of the Microsoft/Novell deal?

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Phil Hochmuth

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