Jack Messman, Novells CEO and chairman, told reporters in a question and answer session following his keynote address at the BrainShare conference here on Monday that the NetWare brand was not off its radar screen.
"We are still committed to it and it is not going away. Our new Open Enterprise Server offering will have two components to it: SuSE Linux Enterprise Server and NetWare. NetWare is here for a long time to come," he said.
In an interview with eWEEK on Monday afternoon, Messman stressed that while NetWare would cease to exist as a standalone brand from the end of this year when it became a core part of its upcoming new Open Enterprise Server operating system platform, it would be supported and upgraded for a long time into the future as part of that product.
NetWare accounted for some $320 million of Novells billion-plus annual revenue, he added.
In fact, the kernel from the next version of NetWare, Version 7.0, would be included in the first version of Open Enterprise Server, which is expected to ship by the end of this year—a year ahead of schedule.
The SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 kernel will also be included in Open Enterprise Server - but will also be retained as a standalone SuSe Linux product—as will a rich collection of networking services, including Nterprise Linux Services, which will transparently interoperate between the two environments, Messman told eWEEK.
"Our current customers paying for maintenance will get Open Enterprise Server as part of that agreement, while new customers will be on a user-based pricing structure. But we have not decided on the formal pricing for Enterprise Server as yet. However, we are not going to abandon any Linux-based or NetWare-based user," he said.
While there was not a lot of profit to be made on the Linux operating system per se, selling the services that went along with that is where revenue comes from.
"So the extent to which people adopt Linux and need those up-the-stack services, thats the extent to which our Linux business will grow and be profitable. As long as Linux stays in the limelight and users buy it, we will continue to do well," he said.
Turning to the companys financial outlook, Messman would only say that Novell would be profitable this year. "Managing the climate from the present to the future is the greatest challenge we face and I want to grow the market for Linux and to use the profits from other parts of the business to do that," he said.
Messman was also very bullish about the outlook for the Linux desktop, saying that Novell had also learned from its negative experiences with Microsoft and wanted a very tight integration between what happened on the desktop and what happened on the server.
"Microsoft will continue to try and deter the growth of Linux and now that we have two government bodies that have come out against them, I hope that this may deter them going forward," he said.
But if Microsoft open-sourced Windows, which Messman said he did not think would happen as this was a huge cash cow for the Redmond, Wash., software company, Novell would help its customers use open-source Windows if this happened and they wanted it, he added.
He also dismissed questions about whether Novells Linux desktop moves were a "declaration of war on the Windows desktop," saying that the community owned the Linux source code and so it was the community that was taking on Microsoft on the desktop front, not Novell.
"Were giving them software and services, but we dont set the direction for open source, we only contribute to that discussion and make suggestions. The open source community is driving where competition will occur and we are a member of that community," he said.
Novell was also training its entire sales force on all of the new Linux and other products and "as soon as demand for Linux-type products picks up theyll get to apply that knowledge and the better they will become at that," he told reporters.