SuSE Linux A.G. is set to ship an enterprise Linux desktop solution, SuSE Linux Desktop, designed for large IT infrastructures and software development and high-performance computing environments.
Holger Dyroff, who heads up SuSEs North American operations in Oakland, Calif., told eWEEK in an interview that the company is targeting installations of between 500 and 1,000 licenses with the of the product—which will ship before the end of the month—across the public and private sectors in the United States and Europe.
The new product, first reported by eWEEK in March, is based on the same code as SuSE Enterprise Server 8. The base package will cost $598, which includes five licenses, an installation kit and a 12-month SuSE Maintenance Program. The maintenance agreement essentially covers the delivery of updates, fixes, patches and installation support, he said.
Customers can choose to buy four additional years of maintenance, starting at some $90 per system per year and falling sharply for large-volume customers. While configuration support is not included in this contract, it can be bought at an additional cost.
While SuSE has not yet signed any deals with OEMs to have the new desktop product ship preinstalled on any of their hardware, later this month the IBM ThinkPads A31 and T40 and the IBM NetVista desktop computers will become certified for SuSE Linux Desktop, thereby ensuring smooth interaction between hardware and software, even under high workloads, Dyroff said.
SuSE Linux Desktop has already achieved Linux Standards Base (LSB) Certification, verifying adherence to the community- and industry-developed standards for Linux distributions and Linux-based applications.
SuSE Linux Desktop users can choose between Linux and Windows productivity tools. While the product comes bundled with Sun Microsystems Inc.s StarOffice 6.0 and OpenOffice.org 1.0.2, users can also install Microsoft Office—ensuring familiarity, flexibility and interoperability while still taking advantage of the stability and scalability that Linux delivers, Dyroff said.
The migration of Microsoft Windows installations to SuSE Linux Desktop is facilitated by the inclusion of Codeweavers CrossOver Office 2.0 in the product. It enables the utilization of Word, Excel and PowerPoint from MS Office 97/2000/XP as well as MS Outlook, Visio 2000 and other Microsoft applications. Agfa Monotype fonts ensure true format printing and display of Microsoft documents.
IBM Lotus Notes can also be utilized on the SuSE Linux Desktop, which provides interfaces enabling access to application servers and mainframes like the SAP client, Windows 2000 Terminal client and IBM terminal emulators.
“We think customers will be pleased with the pricing, which we feel is fair and reasonable. They are getting a stable desktop, which is also more secure and lets them run their Windows applications if they choose to,” Dyroff said.
Having the SuSE Linux Desktop run on the same code base as the enterprise server allows ISVs to support both the server and the client on the same code base. “This also allows perfect integration between the desktop and the enterprise server—thus offering a corporate solution all the way from the desktop to the mainframe. We will also probably move the retail Office Desktop product to the same code base going forward,” he said.
Some hardware vendors agree. Martin Fink, vice president of Linux at Hewlett-Packard Co., said the SuSE Linux Desktop on HP desktops and workstations marks the next stage in the evolution of the Linux operating system. “Users now get the price/performance advantage of Linux on one flexible and efficient platform to run enterprise-level applications on their desktops and one vendor—HP—to support them along the way,” he said.
With its focus on simple central administration, SuSE Linux Desktop is optimized for deployment in large-scale enterprises, public administrations and companies with multiple locations, Dyroff said, citing German life insurance company Stuttgarter Lebensversicherung, which will replace its OS/2-based client infrastructure with Linux.
SuSE Linux will operate in a SmartClient architecture on about 800 PCs at more than 20 locations in Germany. The PCs will be administered from company headquarters in Stuttgart, which will save costs and reduce the administration workload. The new system is currently being utilized by about 60 pilot users. Another 500 workstations will be migrated between September and November at the headquarters, while workstations at the branch offices will follow in 2004.
“We explicitly decided against Windows and for SuSE Linux on our PC workstations, because we believe that this gives us a clear advantage. By choosing SuSE Linux, we can exploit an enormous cost savings and benefit from a substantial efficiency gain,” Manfred Schmidt, CEO of Stuttgarter Lebensversicherung, said in a statement. “The pilot project was extremely successful. We are confident that the full launch will prove successful, meeting our economic expectations.”
The new SuSE Linux Desktop is not to be confused with SuSE Linux Office Desktop, released earlier this year and which is a retail product designed for single personal computers and small to medium-sized businesses. SuSE Linux Office Desktop is based on the SuSE Linux Professional code and not on the Enterprise Server 8 code as SuSE Linux Desktop is.
Asked about the competitive threat from Linux vendors like Red Hat Inc., Dyroff said the company never looks at its competition before introducing new products to the market. It sold its first Linux distribution in 1993 and remains the oldest existing Linux company in the market.
“We introduced our enterprise product in 2000, several years before our competitors, and the delivery of our corporate desktop product this month is probably months, if not years, before our competitors,” he said.