Technology Decision Makers Upbeat About Microsoft-Novell Deal

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-12-12

Technology Decision Makers Upbeat About Microsoft-Novell Deal

Technology decision makers are very upbeat about the recent agreement between Microsoft and Novell to improve interoperability between Windows Server and SUSE Linux, a survey commissioned by the two companies has found.

Some nine out of 10 of those polled said they approve of the collaboration agreement between the two companies as they feel this will benefit IT customers and increase the interoperability of IT systems.

The survey, which was conducted by market research firm Penn, Shoen, and Berlund, was designed to gauge market perception of the recent collaboration between Microsoft and Novell.

It involved 201 online interviews with IT decision makers in the United States between Nov. 17 and Nov. 20.

Read more here about how Microsoft and Novell made peace over Linux.

An IT decision maker was defined for the purposes of the survey as an IT executive, manager or staff member with significant decision-making authority related to technology purchases. Their organizations also had to have at least 500 PCs.

Respondents were running a mix of Windows, Solaris, IBMs AIX, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Novells SUSE Linux and free, unsupported Linux.

Some 75 percent of the respondents believe that the agreement will decrease the patent infringement risks for IT customers, while 86 percent felt that the agreement removed the potential customer risks around intellectual property and software patent infringement.

To read more about how the Microsoft/Novell deal has caused strife, click here.

While 89 percent of those IT decision makers currently running a mixed Windows/SUSE environment said they will be more likely now to consider using Novells SUSE Linux going forward, some 79 percent of those running Red Hat Linux said the same.

A majority (61 percent) of the users surveyed also said they feel Microsoft is working harder than others to form alliances to make sure its software works better with other products, while 67 percent said the deal gives them a more favorable impression of the Redmond, Wash., software giant.

The survey also found that IT professionals want platform providers to work together to solve interoperability problems, and to provide tools that make it easier for the end user to navigate both Linux and Windows environments.

Click here to read about the open letter that Novell issued to the Linux and open-source community.

They also remained concerned about potential intellectual property issues, with some seven in 10 saying that they are more likely to deploy Linux if it comes with intellectual property rights that limit their exposure to risk.

Almost nine in 10 of those surveyed also said it is the responsibility of their software vendors to resolve intellectual property issues before deploying services.

Both Justin Steinman, Novells product marketing director for Linux, and David Kaefer, director of business development for intellectual property and licensing at Microsoft, told eWEEK they are not surprised by the results of the survey.

"This is consistent with what we have been hearing from the customers we have talked to and who want our companies to work together and believe that the deal will bring tangible interoperability benefits," Kaefer said.

Next Page: Why Novell did the deal.


For his part, Steinman said that the reason Novell did this deal was to give customers what they had been demanding: interoperability between Windows and SUSE Linux, "so of course they are going to say positive things about the deal."

Asked about the criticisms of the deal, largely from open-source developers, Steinman said that OpenSUSE has been the top download on over the past month.

"If the community was really upset about this deal, Im not sure wed be on top of the download list. The words of the few were pretty loud, but the actions of the many speak even louder," he said.

The deal has been extremely well-received, "with the exception of a vocal minority," Steinman said, adding that Novell has seen a lot of interest from customers since the deal was announced.

"We have several very large customers who are close to closing with us as a direct response to this deal. A number of Red Hat customers have also expressed interest in moving to SUSE," he said.

An executive at a Microsoft and Novell competitor, who asked not to be named, said the patent aspect of the deal between those two companies has completely "muddied" the waters around the issue of intellectual property and Linux and open source.

"The only good thing about all of this for us is that it has forced many enterprises into re-evaluating their plans going forward, and we are making sure that our products are firmly on the table as they do," he said.

Is Microsoft violating some patents covering open-source technologies? Click here to read more.

But Microsofts Kaefer argued that the deal has clarified things and really showed how companies could collaborate and protect one anothers customers. "Microsoft and Novell stepped up and took leadership here, and people now have a clear way to move forward," he said.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

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