Microsoft is touting BMW and Siemens as the latest enterprises to sign up for the three-year priority support certificates for Novells SUSE Linux Enterprise Server it offers, which are designed to help them run Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise systems seamlessly together.
But the timing of Microsofts release of these two separate deals is interesting, as they seem to come despite the disagreement between the Free Software Foundation and the software maker over whether it is legally bound by the terms and conditions of GNU General Public License Version 3.0.
When asked how Microsofts position that it will not provide support or updates for any code licensed under GPLv3 affects these contracts and the certificates issued, a Microsoft spokesperson told eWeek that there was no impact as the certificates were fully delivered by Novell and redeemed by customers "prior to the existence of the GPLv3 license."
Read more here about why Microsoft feels it is not bound by GPLv3.
But GPLv3 was released on June 29, meaning the BMW and Siemens deals must have been signed before that to have been delivered and fully redeemed before the open source license came into being.
The spokesperson could not be reached for details about when the deals were actually signed and why Microsoft was announcing them now.
The Siemens agreement will support the operating company through the work of its IT Services and Enterprise Communications subsidiary, which is responsible for customer software application development and management worldwide.
Manfred Wangler, vice president of corporate research and technology at Siemens, acknowledged that there are a large number of current and legacy Linux applications in its customer environments, which means that the company has a need for Windows and Linux platform compatibility.
"Siemens customers operate in a heterogeneous environment, and our ability to harness the interoperability work between Novell and Microsoft brings immense value to our business. Agreements like this allow us to focus on innovating, working with partners to improve processes and efficiencies by providing the framework for collaboration," he said in a statement.
HSBC is standardizing on Novells SUSE Linux. Read more here.
For BMW, the agreement will help enable the companys dual-vendor data center strategy, which supports its worldwide corporate computing services and many human resources, marketing and financial applications.
"BMW now has the potential to pursue systems management in a more efficient and reliable manner, to more securely ramp up its future virtualization activities, and have IP peace of mind," the company said in a statement.
These agreements are a direct result of the technical cooperation agreement penned between Microsoft and Novell in November 2006, under which the two companies committed to make their products work better together; jointly build, market and support new solutions to improve interoperability; and deliver new virtualization capabilities.
They two firms also agreed to provide each others customers with patent coverage for their respective products that will remain in place until at least 2012, while Microsoft said it will distribute coupons for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server maintenance and support, to help customers benefit from the use of an interoperable version of Linux with patent coverage as well as the collaborative work between the two companies.
But, since that agreement was signed, Microsoft has claimed that Linux and other open-source software violate 235 of its patents.
It has also said that it is not bound by GPLv3 and has made it clear that its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server certificates will not cover support or updates for any code licensed under GPLv3.
To read why Microsoft sees no conflict between its patent and open-source initiatives, click here.
But several Linux vendors, including Xandros and Linspire, have entered into technical cooperation and patent indemnity agreements with Microsoft over the past several months, which has led some to accuse Microsoft of fracturing the open-source community.
To Susan Hauser, general manager of strategic partnerships and licensing at Microsoft, the IP assurance and "real-world, pragmatic solutions we have developed to make Microsoft products work better with other platforms have resulted in a steady increase worldwide in customers signing up to take advantage of this relationship."
For her part, Susan Heystee, a Novell vice president and general manager of global strategic alliances, believes that, while BMW and Siemens have dramatically different businesses, the same technology platform can be leveraged to increase their efficiencies internally. "For us that equates to continued growth of SUSE Linux Enterprise in the market," she said.
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