Microsoft and Novell are using the one-year anniversary of their interoperability agreement to tout the increasing number of enterprise customers who are signing up because of the benefits offered through the collaboration.
The two companies announced Nov. 8 that Microsoft will give 30 new customers three-year priority support subscriptions for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server from Novell. These agreements were negotiated over the past quarter, and they bring the number of such deals to about 60 that have taken place over the past year.
All of the deals involved non-Novell Linux customers moving over as a result of the technology bridge and intellectual property assurances, Susan Hauser, general manager of strategic partnerships and licensing at Microsoft, told eWEEK.
“This number has exceeded our initial forecasts in terms of our sales goals, and covers customers from the U.S., Europe and Japan, which indicates the global support we have been able to achieve through our collaboration and that we have delivered on the technology bridge and the interoperability updates we promised customers,” Hauser said.
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Linux and Windows were the dominant platforms for these companies in their data centers, many of which were undergoing transformation and consolidation and were looking to technologies like virtualization, said Susan Heystee, Novell vice president and general manager of global strategic alliances.
“So, being able to move forward with Linux that works with Windows, as well as leverage the partnership of having Microsoft and Novell at the table with them, has been very powerful,” she said.
Retail giant Costco, Southwest Airlines, and the City of Los Angeles are among the latest converts, as are a number of companies in Europe and Asia.
Another, CHRISTUS Health, a U.S. Catholic health care provider with more than 40 hospitals in its network, looked to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server to help it improve the overall availability for key infrastructure and mission-critical applications, as well as to reduce the total cost of ownership, said CIO George Conklin.
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“The agreement between Novell and Microsoft makes this an even more appealing decision. By taking advantage of the interoperability between our Windows and Linux environments, were able to significantly streamline the management of our infrastructure,” he said.
Engineers in the Microsoft-Novell Interoperability Lab in Cambridge, Mass. are running automated tests to ensure the interoperability of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 with Windows Server virtualization and Windows Server 2008 with Xen.
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Microsoft and Novell also expanded their technical collaboration agreement, under which Microsoft will make available its UIA (User Interface Automation) specification—an advanced accessibility framework which simplifies the development of assistive technology products for people with one or more disabilities.
Microsoft is also pledging to let anyone in the open-source and proprietary software communities use any of its patents necessary to implement the specification without fear of legal action.
“We heard from customers that they wanted a framework that would allow accessibility to the products, irrelevant of what platform they were running. There is a growing need for accessible products worldwide and we are really pleased that we will deliver this framework, which really allows accessibility to innovations, regardless of whether you are on the Linux or Windows platform,” Microsofts Hauser said.
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Novell will develop an open-source, cross-platform adapter that will allow the UIA framework to work well with existing Linux accessibility projects and complements the investments made by IBM and others.
The UIA solution will ensure interoperability of non-visual access to the next generation of software applications and will also enable UIA to interoperate with the Linux Accessibility Toolkit, which ships with SUSE Linux Enterprise, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Ubuntu Linux.
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Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, welcomed the moves. “These are examples of how industry can come together to tackle interoperability problems for the blind community, and we challenge the entire IT industry to continue to look for creative opportunities such as this to solve longstanding interoperability challenges and reduce development barriers to accessibility,” he said.
Janina Sajka, chair of the Open Accessibility Work Group in the Linux Foundation, said that adding more toolkits to the interoperability ecosystem was beneficial to the whole accessibility community.
“We are always talking to customers about virtualization, and directory interoperability is an area where there has been much interest as there are many large Active Directory customers who are interested in leveraging that technology for access and authentication in their Linux environment,” Novells Hastee said.
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