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Novell increases Linux edge on Dell servers

As part of a move targeting Unix and first-time Linux users, Dell and Novell are expanding their preexisting partnership so customers will now have the option of purchasing PowerEdge servers with SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.

Dell and Novell today announced an agreement to offer Novell SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 (SLES 9) certified on select Dell PowerEdge servers worldwide.

[This] provides Dell Linux customers more platform choices for fully supported operating systems, and gives Novell customers a new option for deploying Linux in their IT infrastructure.
Al Gillen
research director of system softwareIDC

A Dell-Novell partnership has existed for the past eight years, and under the new agreement, Dell customers will be able to purchase Novell SLES 9 with single- and dual-processor PowerEdge servers.

Linda York, vice president of global alliances marketing in Dell's product group, said servers running SuSE Linux will enable customers to replace proprietary Unix-based systems or even to deploy a Linux system for the first time.

York said the lower price point and SuSE Linux combination puts the collaboration in the same category as Red Hat Linux, including certification and support. York would not go so far as to say the server was designed to siphon away users from Red Hat or even from certain proprietary vendors in Redmond.

"Do we see migration from other varieties of Linux or Microsoft? Yes, we have seen interest there, but the volume, however, has been Unix to Linux migration or new Linux users," she said.

The move to now offer SuSE Linux on its PowerEdge servers is a partial break with Red Hat Inc. In a strategic partnership between Red Hat and Dell, Red Hat Linux was the exclusive Linux operating system offered on Dell servers. However, York reiterated that the extended partnership with Novell would not affect the existing partnership that Dell holds with Red Hat.

Ron Hovsepian, the president of Novell North America, called the partnership a "shot in the arm" for the Linux server market, and touted the security strengths present in SLES 9.

"SLES 9 has the strongest Linux enterprise distribution on the market today, and led the market in obtaining [Common Criteria] EAL 3 certification," he said.

A joint effort between security organizations from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K. created Common Criteria certification. It defines the features of computer systems and products that offer support and control security with seven levels that are obtained through an extensive testing a certification process.

"We plan to push the envelope again [with SLES 9], as all the components to achieve EAL 4 security are in place," Hovsepian said.

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Al Gillen, research director of system software at Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corp., said the move will assist both the hardware aspirations of Dell and the customers who may wish to expand their reach with SuSE Linux.

"[This] provides Dell Linux customers more platform choices for fully supported operating systems, and gives Novell customers a new option for deploying Linux in their IT infrastructure," Gillen said.

The operating system is priced at $175 for a single CPU and $275 for a dual-processor system for the PowerEdge 1850, 2800 and 2850 servers. York said the Linux operating system will be bundled with the server at the time of purchase and is based in the Linux 2.6 kernel.

Dell Services will support SLES 9 through a support agreement with Novell technical support, providing customers a single point of contact for all issues.

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