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Novell lays out vision for SUSE, IT agility at BrainShare

Novell has begun work on the next-gen SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 and has announced new company acquisitions and partnerships to bring management agility to mixed-IT shops.

Mixed-IT environments are here to stay. And Novell Inc. wants to be the lubricant -- that is, the infrastructure software company -- that makes them all work together.

Novell began spelling out its vision on Monday, March 17, in the first of a series of announcements at the kickoff of its nearly weeklong BrainShare gathering in Salt Lake City. Collectively, its news releases and those still to come are pieces of an innovation strategy whose focus on achieving IT interoperability, even as IT is asked to do more.

"Our goal is making IT work as one," Novell CEO Ronald Hovsepian told the 5,500 customers and partners at BrainShare. "And one of the key places to innovate is FOSSA," he said, referring to Novell's Free and Open Source Software with Agility project which helps customers solve IT problems. "We have more and more support capabilities, online and self-help this year," he said.

Novell's major initiatives this year include the following:
  • the development launch of SUSE Linux Enterprise 11, which will incorporate virtualization, consolidation and appliance technologies. The goals: increased optimization with Windows, easier Unix migrations and reduced power consumption. No projected release date has been announced, however;
  • the upcoming acquisition of PlateSpin, which will add disaster recovery and automation of data center functions to Novell capabilities, as well as the purchase of SiteScape, which will bolster the ability of IT teams to collaborate with one another and with customers; and
  • the broadening of Novell's "ecosystem" through strengthened interoperability with SAP AG and a partnership with Altos Origin, a systems integrator with a strong presence in Europe, on security, identity and access management issues.

Novell CTO Jeffrey Jaffe said SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 will "take data center technology to the next level" and will incorporate the work of partners and independent software vendors. Novell's vision is to add pieces that complement its existing technologies, all with the goal of helping IT to become more agile and function as a single, interoperable unit, he said.

For example, PlateSpin's ability to run multiple virtualization technologies on multiple platforms, combined with its backup and recovery and other functions, collectively are "totally unique" in virtualization technology and "an exciting extension" of IT management capabilities, Jaffe said. And SiteScape will ease the process of forming and disbanding virtual IT teams and, in turn, make IT more agile, he said.

Finally, the Novell/SAP partnership, which began about a year ago, is now much deeper, with greater optimization of the respective systems. This collaboration in system and resource management should be helpful for SAP, particularly in appealing to small and medium-sized enterprises, Jaffe said.

Fiscally speaking, Novell's Linux revenue is strong, growing 65% between the first quarter of 2006 and the first quarter 2007, Hovsepian added. The sales agreement with Microsoft by itself contributed $122 million in new income, he said.

"The biggest interoperability issue is getting open source to work with Microsoft, and I am convinced that there is no company like Novell [that can] address this head on," Hovsepian concluded.

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