Interoperability Pays Off for Microsoft, Novell

Microsoft and Novell are now realizing the fruits of their joint relationship to pursue interoperability between their respective computing solutions.

Microsoft and Novell are now realizing the fruits of their joint relationship to pursue interoperability between their respective computing solutions.

Officials of both companies said they have seen an increase in demand-both within the United States and abroad-for the benefits offered by Microsoft's and Novell's collaborative relationship.

Indeed, since finalizing their business, legal and technical collaboration agreement in November 2006, the two companies have signed more than 300 customers-including over 100 since November-and sold a total of more than $200 million in certificates for Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server support and maintenance, the companies said.

"The latest customers to sign on include companies in a broad range of industries and geographies, such as Boise Inc., Idaho Power, Honeywell Aerospace, La Poste, Procter and Gamble (P&G), SC Johnson, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sky TV and St. Jude Medical Center," Microsoft said in a statement June 10.

In addition, Microsoft and Novell earlier opened up a joint Interoperability Lab.

"The primary impetus for our joint Interoperability Lab was to increase the value we can deliver to customers," said Tom Hanrahan, director of Microsoft's Open Source Technology Center, which includes the Microsoft-Novell Interoperability Lab in Cambridge, Mass. "We felt that it was critical to set up a collaborative environment dedicated to delivering better technical interoperability so that the testing and development work performed in the lab could directly influence features and capabilities as they are being engineered into our respective products."

The Interoperability Lab has helped with the production of Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Management Pack for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager, "which, when it is released later [in June], will extend the monitoring capabilities within Microsoft System Center Operations Manager R2 across seven SUSE Linux Enterprise services and enable customers to monitor both their Linux and Windows system environments through one console," the companies said.

"The early spirit of cooperation that Microsoft and Novell have taken with the Interoperability Lab since its inception has helped it to evolve into an intermediary point for our two companies, and has also influenced additional programs and projects," Suzanne Forsberg, senior software manager for Novell and co-manager of the Cambridge facility, said in a statement. "The result is that we contribute our respective strengths to create practical and beneficial solutions for our mixed-source customers."

Meanwhile, Ted MacLean, general manager for Strategic Partnerships and Licensing at Microsoft, said, "In today's economic environment, when customers are looking to derive the greatest value from their IT investments, we are seeing an increased rate of demand for the interoperability solutions and IP peace of mind benefits provided by our collaboration. Consistently positive feedback and sales results demonstrate that our relationship with Novell has been successful in delivering interoperability solutions that help our customers showcase the value IT contributes to their business."

And analyst Jay Lyman of The 451 Group added: "The relationship has substantially benefited Microsoft's Linux integration story and has driven Linux revenue for Novell. The development and work by the two companies to improve Linux and Windows interoperability addresses the reality of mixed enterprise environments for customers, who were largely the impetus for this collaboration and are now benefiting from the resulting technology and support."

Microsoft officials said some of the primary factors contributing to this increased rate of adoption are:

??Ç The launch of Novell's SLES Subscription with Expanded Support, which includes technical support for customers' existing paid and unpaid Linux deployments, including RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), while they transition to Novell's SUSE Enterprise Linux.

??Ç Expanded investments the two companies have made together in growing markets, such as China. More than 30 customers have signed on in China, and more than 20 additional customers have signed on in the neighboring markets of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea over the past year.

??Ç The development of real-world technical interoperability solutions within the joint Interoperability Lab. This facility serves as the physical environment for joint testing and development work, which has already resulted in product-level contributions for both companies in several areas.