Dell to Partner with Microsoft, Novell on Interoperability

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-05-07 Print this article Print

Dell joins Microsoft and Novell in their business collaboration designed to provide greater interoperability between Windows and SUSE Linux.

Dell has joined Microsoft and Novell in their business collaboration that is designed to provide greater interoperability between Windows and SUSE Linux and give customers on both sides intellectual property assurance. Under the agreement to be announced May 7, Dell will buy SUSE Linux Enterprise Server certificates from Microsoft that it will make available to its customers.
It will also establish a services and marketing program to migrate current Linux users who are not Dell Linux customers to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, Rick Becker, senior vice president of strategic solutions for Dells product group, told eWEEK.
Dell will also establish a dedicated customer marketing team for migrating current Linux users to SUSE Linux. This effort will focus on three areas: interoperability workshops, migration proof-of-concepts and migration services, he said. "We are excited about the Microsoft-Novell collaboration because it enables Dell to offer our customers an easy path to simplifying the management of their information technology," he said. Microsoft and Novell announced on Nov. 2 a set of broad collaboration agreements to build, market and support a series of new solutions that will make Novell and Microsoft products work better together, along with an agreement to provide each others customers with patent coverage for their respective products. Click here to read more about how Microsoft and Novell made peace over Linux. Susan Heystee, vice president and general manager of global strategic alliances at Novell, told eWEEK that she is pleased to have Dell as the first major global partner to agree to partner and work with both companies around interoperability. Dell will be going to market with these interoperability solutions, while also providing added value for its enterprise customers, she said. "We have heard back from our customers in the six months since Novell and Microsoft entered into this agreement, and they have told us they wanted a partner like Dell, who could not only provide the solutions around the whole interoperability and IP assurance areas to their enterprise customers, but also provide global services and support around those solutions," she said. Dells Becker said that the interoperability work Microsoft and Novell are doing between Windows and Linux will radically reduce the complexity for customers deploying heterogeneous environments. Those customers want to be able to deploy their application stacks on both Windows and Linux without any concerns or ramifications from the operating system providers, he said. Novells CEO has no regrets about the Microsoft deal. Read why here. "Our customers have also told us that IP assurance is a very big issue for them, and they want to know that Dell and our partners will all stand behind the products we sell. So now we can, with confidence, extend the assurance and peace of mind that our customers are asking for when deploying both Windows and Linux into their data center," Becker said. As such, Dell will establish a hardware program for migrating existing nonsubscribing Dell Linux users to a SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. "So as to help them do that, we are going to focus on interoperability workshops and help them with migration proof-of-concepts. When we find the right solution for their heterogeneous environments, we are then going to help them with migration services, which will be fee-based," he said. "The interoperability work between Microsoft and Novell around Web services, Office management and virtualization is critical as customers move to optimize their data centers. Having common interoperability APIs greatly simplifies the work they have to do to deploy their solutions," Becker said. Asked if the deal means Dell will now become technically involved in the interoperability work under way between Microsoft and Novell, Becker said the company is already deeply technically involved in the optimization of Windows on its platform as well as with the optimization of Linux and open-source solutions. "We plan to be technically involved in delivering the interoperability services around this program," he said. The deal will not affect Dells relationship with the other Linux vendors, including Red Hat and Ubuntu, he said, noting that the company is focused on delivering standard-based technology solutions and providing customer choice, and that this is just another choice for them. In fact, Dell and Canonical announced a partnership on May 1 that will see the hardware company ship Ubuntu Linux preinstalled on some of its desktop and laptop computers. Read more here about Dells decision to preload Ubuntu Linux on some consumer machines. "We will always provide our customers the widest standard-based offering, and this deal is specifically targeted at Linux users who are not current Dell Linux customers. As the first major system provider to join the Microsoft/Novell collaboration, we are taking a leadership position and simplifying the IT that our customers deploy today," he said. Asked if Dell is concerned about clauses in the latest draft of the GNU GPL (General Public License) Version 3 that could prohibit such deals going forward, Becker deflected the question to Novells Heystee, who noted that GPL 3 is an ongoing process and one that she did not want to comment on. "But, to be clear, it was not necessary for us to enter into a patent or IP agreement for this deal to happen," she said. Susan Hauser, general manager of strategic partnerships and licensing at Microsoft, told eWEEK that the deal with Dell adds additional value for customers, who want to run heterogeneous environments and have their vendors help them manage those environments, while providing IP assurance. The latest draft of GPL 3 has come under fire. Click here to read more. Asked whether other hardware vendors are being targeted for similar deals, Heystee said additional partnerships could be considered down the road, but the current focus is to launch and work with Dell. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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