Open Source Vision - the Novell viewpoint

With the acquisition of SuSE and Ximian, Novell has a strong presence in the Open Source Market. With some strategic initiatives like the open sourcing of YAST and the Ximian connector, the company has also made an emphatic statement on its committment to the Open Source community. In this interview for the Indian GNU/Linux Users Group - Kolkata Chapter, Novell representative talk with Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay about the company and its vision.

SM: Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay (sankarshan (at) openoffice (dot) org)
NR: Novell Representative - Ashit Panjwani, National Manager - Alliance and Marketing

SM: Novell is firmly identified with ‘NetWare’, how does that tie-in with the strong business moves made in GNU/Linux ?

NR: One of the reason why people may identify Novell with NetWare is because of NetWare’s success and strong track record of providing organizations with highest level of reliability, scalability and security for more than 2 decades. However Novell had been focusing on supporting cross platforms since late 90’s. Novell’s support for Linux dates back to 1999 when we announced availability of our directory services i.e edirectory on Linux platform, since than Novell has been focusing on making most of its product available on multiple platforms including Linux. In fact last year Novell made a commitment of porting its network services which are a part of NetWare, on Linux platform, late last year Novell announced availability of Nterprise Linux services which allows organizations to deploy NetWare’s Network services like file,print, directory, messaging etc on Linux. In March 2004 at Brainshare Novell announced its plans for Novell open enterprise server which will offer freedom of choice to customers to deploy Novell’s networking services i.e on NetWare kernel or on Linux kernel.

SM: With SuSE and Ximian being acquired, Novell now has a wide array of desktop environments at hand - how will it be synergised ?

NR: Both the Ximian and SUSE LINUX acquisitions reaffirm Novell’s belief in the value of the open source development model and strengthen Novell’s commitment to supporting the open source community. SUSE LINUX is an integrator with a wealth of experience in working with both the open source community and the IT industry. SUSE LINUX brings extensive experience in KDE and has a track record working with GNOME. Ximian has core competence in GNOME and a great desktop focus, both in platform and product offerings. For the most part, SUSE LINUX and Ximian solutions are highly complementary. Ximian XD2, Red Carpet Enterprise, and Evolution all provide added value to the SUSE LINUX distribution

SM: The Indian GNU/Linux or F/LOSS market space already has the strong presence of Red Hat and a host of other small players. Do you think that the market is big enough to ensure commercial viability of Novell presence ?

NR: The Linux/F/LOSS opportunity in India is huge and we see a strong opportunity for Novell to further expand the same. Open source is a huge opportunity for India to leverage its assets and become a NetGiver in Global IT community. With Novell’s acquisition of SuSE will help us get Linux being deployed at the centre of enterprise not only for edge applications.

SM: Tell us something about the technology stack offered by Novell as part of its GNU/Linux business strategy.

NR: With acquisition of Ximian in August 2003 and SuSE in Jan 2004, Novell becomes the only $1b organization offering end to end Linux stack solutions from Desktops to servers, to messaging(Open exchange server, Groupwise, Evolution), Management ( Redcarpet from Ximian), security ( Novell’s Secure Identity Management solutions). Ximian’s team is actively driving has Mono project, currently in its beta stage which allows organization to deploy their .Net applications on Linux platform

SM: The Free/Open Source movement is based on a strong community interaction - how does Novell see the community contributing ?

NR: Novell will help expand the global open source ecosystem, creating innovation and choice for developers, users and organizations alike – from advocacy and development resources to events and continued support of key open source projects, pushing the adoption of Linux worldwide. SUSE LINUX engineers have been involved in the Linux kernel development for over eight years.They are well known and respected throughout the community. Coupled with Novell’s Ximian team for open source projects like GNOME and Mono, Novell is determined to support the bi-directional cooperation of the open source community. This is a further step to prove the acceptance for Linux by the IT industry. By joining forces, SUSE LINUX and Novell provide the Linux community a strong commitment to help to drive Linux by contributing to Linux development. Recently Novell also made available YAST and ifolder under open source. Novell has also set up collaboration site for developing open source projects. http://forge.novell.com/modules/news/

SM: How does Novell plan to interact regularly with the community ?

NR: As mentioned above ,from global interaction perspective Novell has setup collaboration website for developing open source projects. For Indian standpoint we are designing various programs which would be aimed at interacting with community, updating them on various developments, learning from the community on initiatives which we need to take to accelerate the awareness of Linux/open source in India

SM: The education sector is largely ignored by the stakeholders - how is Novell addressing the issue ?

NR: We understand the importance of education sector in creating the expertise on Linux and have identified it as key focus area. Novell will work closely with various academic institutes in imparting training to their students on Linux/Open source. Novell has also appointed authorized training partners across the country for offering Linux based courses in Indian market place.

SM: Tell us something about the success stories in India.

NR: There are number of customers of SuSE in the country who have been using SuSE in various deployment areas. Post our acquisition, there has been a tremendous interest from customer community wanting to know more on how they can reduce their existing costs by migrating from their current platform to Linux. We are working very closely with those customers to help them in their migration strategies.

SM: G2C and e-governance solution sets are best implemented through localised distributions and implementations - how does Novell see Localisation efforts on SuSE ?

NR: We do agree that localization is a key requirement for government segment. We are closely studying various localization needs, besides local language support.

SM: It was a pleasure talking with you, thank you for your time.

NR: We appreciate the opportunity and look forward to working with Linux User groups in India.

Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay is a Free Software enthusiast. His writings can be read at Planet FLOSS India. Sankarshan can be contacted at sankarshan at openoffice dot org.

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