Late last month, The Attachmate Group completed its acquisition of Novell. Moving forward, Novell and SUSE Linux will operate, alongside NetIQ and Attachmate, as four separate business units-a reorganization that unravels the 2003 SUSE acquisition that had established Novell as a Linux and open source player.
In the years following its SUSE pickup, Novell trumpeted its new, open source direction so loudly that it's tough to imagine exactly what a SUSE-free Novell will look like moving forward.
Between its SUSE Linux Enterprise operating system, its patent and collaboration deals with Microsoft, and its open source implementation of .NET, Mono, Novell had built a solid story for itself as a sane middle path between Microsoft and Linux-centric technology approaches.
Now, after having situated SUSE at the core of its product line-dumping, for instance, the aging Netware OS for the SUSE-based Open Enterprise Server-Novell has to figure out where it fits in today's IT landscape.
Conversely, the future seems brighter for SUSE, which took a lot of heat in the open source community for its associations with Microsoft, but, which, on balance, came out ahead during its time with Novell by picking up more enterprise clout.
As for figuring out its place in the IT landscape, my recent review of SUSE Manager indicates the sort of opportunities available. The SUSE Manager product is based on Red Hat's own, open sourced, management product, Satellite. Where Red Hat's Satellite supports only Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Manager embraces SUSE Linux as well as RHEL.
When the number one vendor in your field makes a point of releasing its works under an open source license, it's not too bad being number two. Although Red Hat is growing at a steady clip, there are more enterprise open source opportunities out there than Red Hat alone can seize.
In the months ahead, I'll be interested to see just how aggressively a SUSE unburdened from Novell's legacy product lines takes advantage of its number two spot by adjusting its own products to better draft on the Linux leader.