SALT LAKE CITY—Novell Inc.s 20th annual BrainShare tradeshow opened here Sunday with a different focus from years past. The reason: Linux.
In recent years, BrainShare had been seen by the industry as a show chronicling the slow decline of a network giant and its flagship operating system, NetWare. This year, however, Novell is focusing on its shift from NetWare to its new Linux offerings. As a result, more than 6,000 people are expected to attend BrainShare this year, according to Kevan Barney, Novells senior manager of press relations. Last year, only 5,200 attended the show.
“As we look back on two great decades of BrainShare, Novell couldnt be better positioned for the future,” said Jack Messman, chairman and CEO of Novell, in a prepared statement. “With our 20 years of enterprise experience, Novell can bring together the worlds of enterprise software and open source better than anyone else. Linux is all about giving customers choice. Thanks to our Linux moves, weve seen incredible interest in BrainShare this year, both from customers and partners.”
Interviews on the showroom floor proved Messman was right on the money. Ten out of ten termed Novells move to Linux as great.
Tom Corus, a systems engineer for XIOtech, a storage area networking (SAN) company with strong Novell ties, spoke for many when he said, “Linux is a perfect marriage for Novell.” Looking ahead, he added, “The only reason Microsoft [Corp.] got where they are is because they captured the desktop. Now, Novell and Linux have a chance to capture it back.”
“This is a terrific strategic move,” said an engineer with GWAVA, an e-mail add-on company for Novells GroupWise program. “Where else could they go? Microsoft was eroding their marketshare. In a few years everyone will know that Novell moving to Linux was a great idea.”
Maximilian Morganstern, an engineer at Messaging Architects, another company whose products add functionality to GroupWise, said simply, “This is a win, and with it things are definitely heads up for Novell.”
Robert Gogolen, president of EMF Inc., an integrator and the North American distributor for Tobit Software AG, a German fax software vendor, also thought Novells move to Linux was a good one, but he struck a cautionary note. “Linux is still not ready for the small to medium-sized business, where they still buy Microsoft Small Business Server and [at the high end] it wont replace AIX and Solaris.”
That said, Gogolen still thinks it was “a smart move. It cant help but to break them out of the perception that Novell is dying. Far too many people only looked at Novell being NetWare, and didnt look at its first-rate enterprise programs like ZenWorks and eDirectory.”
The only possible downside that Gogolen sees is if “Novell confuses its customers by not making sure they get a clear message of where Novell is going and that both operating system kernels, NetWare and Linux, will be supported into the future.”
This weeks BrainShare is bringing together Novell customers, partners and employees, with more than 300 technical and business sessions, as well as hands-on lab training and testing. Messman kicks off the event Monday with a keynote outlining Novells strategic direction and highlighting initiatives around identity management, resource management, Web services and open source. Messman will address new advances in Linux management for the enterprise and Novells plans for Linux on both the server and the desktop. Leading proponents of enterprise Linux from Novell partners will keynote later in the week.
Besides Novell, more than 50 leading technology companies, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell and Computer Associates International Inc., are sponsoring the event. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Ricoh are among the 15 sponsors participating in BrainShare for the first time.
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