In a wide-ranging state-of-the-company update, Novell Inc. executives this week detailed the vendors embrace of Linux across its product lines, saying that good progress has been made but that much more remains to be done.
Novell CEO Jack Messman told several thousand attendees at the BrainShare show here that while the company had fulfilled its promises to deliver products and services on Linux over the past year, the work was far from over.
The enthusiasm for Linux and for Novells play in that area were underscored by the fact that more than 6,000 people from some 50 countries had signed up to attend this weeks BrainShare, with more than 1,200 of them first-time attendees, Messman said.
Over the past year, Novells strategic focus has been on expanding Linux in the enterprise, and the release in November of the Waltham, Mass., companys Open Enterprise Server underscored that move. "OES allows you to migrate your NetWare applications to Linux without doing a rewrite, Messman said. "We have also expanded our ecosystem of partners in our Linux PartnerNet system from 42 this time last year to some 560 now—a tenfold increase."
Among enterprises deploying OES is regional airline Comair, a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines Inc., in Cincinnati. Roger Fenner, Comairs infrastructure servicing manager, said proprietary systems do not give the flexibility and choice provided by open systems.
"Open systems were the way to go," Fenner said. "OES allows us to leverage the knowledge we have inside the company and allows us to provide the services available on traditional NetWare on Linux. OES running on Linux and NetWare looks the same and has the same services. We also get all the support we need from Novell."
Messman said Novell is hearing from CIOs that they believe Linux is enterprise-ready and holds several key benefits for them: It helps simplify and streamline IT—especially since it has a common code base from the desktop to the server to the data center—and enables staffs to be more productive and efficient.
In addition, Novell is focusing on improving the Linux desktop experience; the company released its Novell Linux Desktop in November. The release includes the OpenOffice.org desktop productivity suite and the Firefox browser at an attractive price. While that desktop product is not meant for all users at this point, "as its functionality increases, it will become far more attractive to most users," Messman said.
Addressing application support for Novells Linux platform, Messman said there are now 1,400 certified products on SuSE Linux. "Linux is expanding its reach into the enterprise, and we will continue to support and fuel this growth," he said. "But we need to do more than that. We are already down the road on better Linux management with tools like YaST and Novell ZENworks."
As for security, Messman said, it remains the most important issue for CIOs—and it is becoming more complex. Managing identity is about more than managing people and passwords; it involves Web services, devices and resources, he said.
"Identity is the first step in security and needs to manage the what, how and who of information," Messman said. "We at Novell have an identity-driven product strategy and solution. Identity has become as ubiquitous as Linux."
Nebraskas Information Management Services department is one enterprise customer using Novells eDirectory to create a single-user identity for each state resident.
Novell also has plans to expand its ecosystem of services over the coming months, with the goal of providing support for all user Linux needs under a single support agreement that meets individual company requirements, Messman said.
In a call to action, Messman said partners and customers should take advantage of OES, simplify their IT by using Linux and start implementing an identity-driven enterprise.