Linus Torvalds Visits Novell's BrainShare

Everything came up Linux today at Novell's annual BrainShare conference in Salt Lake City, where company executives proclaimed a corporate resurgence and a surprise guest -- Linus Torvalds -- touted

March 23, 2004

4 Min Read
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Everything came up Linux today at Novell's annual BrainShare conference in Salt Lake City, where company executives proclaimed a corporate resurgence and a surprise guest touted the vendor's commitment to open source.

Although Novell CEO Jack Messman and Vice Chairman/Office of the CEO Chris Stone excited the crowd of 6,000 with talk of the future, it was Linux founder Linus Torvalds who brought the house down with a surprise visit.

"[Novell] can be the next big thing in Linux," Torvalds said sheepishly. "I think open source is the perfect way to solve technical issues."

Torvalds stopped short of an all-out endorsement of Novell's Linux strategy, leaving the cheerleading to keynote speakers Messman and Stone. And the duo didn't disappoint. They declared that Novell aims to incorporate Linux functionality into its overall enterprise and desktop offerings. The executives took shots at Microsoft and its Windows operating system.

"This year, BrainShare doesn't need no stinking Windows," Messman exclaimed, noting that the entire conference was being run on Linux. "It's all about open source now."Beneath all of the rhetoric was some news. First, Messman provided more details about Novell's plan to enhance its PartnerNet program. Announced Friday, the reorganized program will incorporate former SUSE partners to bring the company's global solutions, technology and training partner relationships under one umbrella. Messman said partners will now be able to develop expertise in one of four areas: Linux, secure identity management, resource management and Web services.

"We cannot possibly reach all of our customers with our direct-sales force alone," Messman said. "Partners are simply critical to our plan moving forward."

The CEO also said Novell, Waltham, Mass., will release a public beta version of Novell ZENworks 6.5 by mid-April, and the company will soon release Novell Storage Services for Linux. The ZENworks 6.5 beta, which will include Ximian Red Carpet, will enable network administrators to manage Linux, Windows and other desktop environments, and the Storage Services will enable customers to mount existing data on Linux servers, he said.

In addition, Messman said Novell soon plans to launch an open-source systems management project that would enable customers to tie together disparate network management tools such as IBM Tivoli, Hewlett-Packard's OpenView and Computer Associates International's Unicenter. He said the project will enable solution providers to build system stacks with access to current and future network management products, noting that SUSE's YaST will make managing those environments even easier.

"When you put all these pieces together, it's clear that Novell has become the only company that can offer a full stack of Linux solutions," Messman said. "Put simply, Novell is back."Stone followed by laying the groundwork for Novell's strategy in the months ahead. Stone said the company will focus on six key areas: the Linux desktop, resource management, Web services and identity management, common infrastructure services such as GroupWise and iFolder, NetWare, and open source and Linux.

In particular, Stone promised that the company would release SUSE Enterprise 9.1 later this year and follow that release with a new, enterprise-class Linux offering every 18 months. He added that a 2.0 upgrade of the iFolder component of Novell's Nterprise Linux Services is slated to be available soon, and NetWare 7 will be designed to work with Linux, not replaced by it.

"Now when a manual says to 'Install Windows 2000 or better,' you can--you can install Linux," Stone said. "Our strategy is to clearly combine the value of both products and deliver a total cost solution that provides a clear path out of the Microsoft jungle."

Novell channel partners said they were impressed by the morning keynote and the direction that the vendor is going.

Parker Pearson, marketing manager at Advanced Logic Industries, Blacksburg, Va., said that although Linux adoption might be slow, the strategy will pay dividends in the long run. "We see [Novell's] Linux initiative as very positive for our clients and believe that Novell has a good strategy going forward into 2004," Pearson said. "The rate of any technology adoption is always difficult to predict, but the financial case is becoming extremely compelling."Terry Calloway, president of Data Technique, Pittsburg, Kan., said the move to Linux reinforces Novell's commitment to making open source not only an enterprise-ready solution, but also an enterprise-acceptable one. "The Linux integration serves to better position our business for broader horizons," Calloway said. "With Linux, [Novell] can't go wrong."

Article appears courtesy of CRN.

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