Novell Inc. on Tuesday will announce Nterprise Linux Services, the first product in its upcoming Novell Nterprise Linux suite, which the company intends to deliver as it moves to embrace Linux across all its products and services.
Nterprise Linux Services is expected to be available before then end of this year. Pricing will be announced once the final product shipping timeframe and packaging decisions are clearer. “But this announcement fulfills some of the promises we made at our recent BrainShare conference about where we were going with Linux,” Jeff Hawkins, the vice president of Novells Linux business office, told eWEEK in an interview.
Users will not need Novell NetWare in their environment to run any of the services that are included in the Novell Nterprise Linux suite, which will interoperate with and function in a mixed environment and as a standalone, he said.
“As Novell already offers some Linux services as well as services like eDirectory and its attendant DirXML on many attendant platforms, this announcement signals Novells intention to bring together an integrated suite and this is our first offering along that path,” he said.
But Nterprise Linux Services will bring together a lot of Novells traditional—and some new—values to the Linux platform, while helping organizations embrace and use Linux in the enterprise datacenter. “It will break down some of the barriers that currently exist and is one step on a path we are taking toward fully embracing Linux.
“It has in it a number of different components, from file components to print, messaging, directory and identity management components, as well as some overall management capabilities. We tried to wrap it up and bring a nice user experience forward for users as they deploy this product in their environments,” he said.
A closed beta program will begin soon and involve some 100 to 150 of Novells customers and partners. The product target market is the Linux early adopter, which ranges from large enterprises to small and medium-sized businesses.
“We hope we can overcome some of the technical barriers around Linux by bringing our entire ecosystem to play. This is not just about the product suite but also about the technical support and education infrastructure that accompanies it,” he said.
While Hawkins declined to comment on the legal dispute between IBM and The SCO Group, which also claims that Linux is an unauthorized derivative of Unix, he did say that “you can clearly see that we are moving forward with regard to Linux.”
Novell on Tuesday will also announce that it has struck agreements with three major hardware vendors—Dell, HP and IBM—who endorsed its Linux offerings and strategy and will offer these Novell solutions to customers going forward.
Full training and support will also be offered under these partnership agreements, Hawkins said, declining to say how this would be implemented by the OEMs. “Were still working through a lot of the details at the moment as to how these products will be offered to their customers. But they are embracing and endorsing what were doing and do intend to sell our products to their customers,” he said.
Novell also plans to put its entire ecosystem behind Linux and these products by offering technical support, training, education and consulting services. It will also offer support for and with its partners for Enterprise Linux Services and other future products in the suite on both Red Hat and SuSE Linux distributions.
Novell CTO Alan Nugent also told eWEEK in an interview that this Linux initiative has reinvigorated its relationship with the Independent Hardware Vendors (IHV), which had soured over the past few years. “This has really jazzed things up between Novell, HP and Dell, so were on a good strategic path with them and others across our products. Pretty much across the board weve rekindled a lot of these relationships,” he said.
Novell has also concentrated for too long on selling its products at the infrastructure level rather than to the CIO and CTO at the strategy level. To address this it has been focusing its marketing efforts and retraining its sales organization to get up higher in IT shop management.
Sometimes I think we are the best kept secret in the IT industry, but we are addressing that. However, its still a work in progress,” he said.
But Hawkins stressed that this Linux momentum did not in any way detract from its support for its NetWare operating system. Netware 6.5 is due for release later this year. “We are continuing strongly with our NetWare line, and what this Linux product does is put us on parallel paths for supporting both of these operating system platforms. So, to be clear, were not dropping NetWare, were adding Linux and fully embracing it and the community,” he said.
“The Nterprise Linux Services product will include the Novell eDirectory as well as DirXML with some base connectors for Microsofts Active Directory and NT domains. We want to break down any barriers that exist in an organization in and around a directory.
“Our message is that users dont have to pick one, we want them to know that this product embraces any directory that you have and with eDirectory and DirXML we can connect to all of your systems and all of their directories and keep them up to date,” he said.
Users will also later be able to plug in other connectors to other systems down the line using DirXML. While these will not be included in the suite, it will plug into the infrastructure being put in place. The directory is also being plumbed so that authentication requests that come into traditional Linux services are redirected to eDirectory so that it could be the single source of authentication requests, Hawkins said.
On the file services front, Novell is including its iFolder technology, which will be integrated with the end user experience and the Web access methods in the suite. Novell will also bring its iPrint technology to Linux, which is enterprise ready, location based, and allows large print jobs to flow through the system.
“We are also bringing the Virtual Office Web experience to Linux as well. This is a portable infrastructure experience, and when you install Nterprise Linux Services you can immediately plumb all of your end-users to have this experience,” he said.
Hawkins acknowledged that the company hoped the product would ultimately demonstrate the superior technology solution it offered and buy additional Novell products and services. “We believe that we have a better manageability, scalability and stability story and that end users like our services better. Weve been at this a very long time,” he said.