Novell-Microsoft Deal Necessary, CEO Says

Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian explains the controversial deal with Microsoft as a way to move forward in a "mixed-source world."

SAN FRANCISCO—Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian explained rather than defended his companys deal with Microsoft in his keynote address at the annual LinuxWorld Conference here Aug. 8.

"I know our deal with Microsoft is controversial, but it is necessary for our customers who have to deal with both Linux and Windows in their data centers. Virtualization is also going to have to deal with both of those operating systems," he told attendees.

Highlighting the ongoing shift to a world of proprietary and open source, which he dubbed the mixed-source world, Hovsepian stressed that the Linux market needed to expand and broaden even more.

He praised as necessary recent moves such as Oracles decision to offer Linux support and the agreements Microsoft had penned with Linux vendors, including Xandros and Linspire.

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To read more about why Hovsepian said he has no regrets about the Microsoft deal, click here.

"Microsoft is a reality inside that mixed-source world, and the acceptance of this will be a critical part of the industrys success going forward. But we will compete and battle them, and our goal is to win. We have 20 years of battling Microsoft in our blood," he said.

The evolution of Novells partner development models underscores the fact that there will be more of a mixed world in the future and Novell, along with the rest of the industry, has to be able to bring that all together, Hovsepian said.

Novell and IBM are already building mixed source together, he said, referring to the deal announced Aug. 7 that would see Novell include WebSphere Community Server Enterprise Edition in its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

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Click here to read more about why IBM and Novell have joined forces to capture a larger piece of the growing open-source application server market.

Novell is also focused on gaining further share from Unix, which currently presents the single biggest opportunity for growth, he said, noting that other Unix distributions are also trying to become more like Linux.

One of those is Sun Microsystems and its OpenSolaris distribution, he said. "Sun wants its software to be more like Linux, and its Project Indiana Web site highlights a number of things [intended] to make OpenSolaris more like Linux. So Linux is absolutely winning the technical battle, but we need to keep pushing to drive it to the next level," Hovsepian said.

On that front, the Linux management environment needs more work and the tool sets have to be improved, enhanced and differentiated to help drive Linux to the next level, he said.

With regard to another big customer and industry issue, power management, Hovsepian said this was a target-rich environment for Novell to go after and attack.

Novell supports Advanced Micro Devices PowerNow technology, and is a member of The Green Grid project to manage and reduce power consumption and of IBMs Big Green power initiative.

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Read more here about the green data center push.

"I am very excited about the future of Linux and its potential, but there are three primary things we need to do: enlarge the ISV ecosystem, enable the next generation of data centers and expand the market. Our job is also to show customers the compelling value behind Linux," Hovsepian said.

When asked about Microsofts statements after GNU General Public License 3.0 was released that backed away from supporting the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server coupons that Microsoft is selling under the agreement between the two companies, Hovsepian said Microsoft was simply making clear that it felt it was not a legal party to that contract.

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Microsoft says it is not bound by GPLv3. Click here to read more.

"Novell will deliver the latest Linux distribution to customers with those coupons and will support that, while Microsoft will not support any code licensed under GPLv3," he said.

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