Microsoft and Novell Experience Increased Demand From Customers Seeking to Maximize IT Investments Through Greater Interoperability

Technical solutions spur continued success of joint effort to advance cross-platform interoperability and deliver IP peace of mind.

10 June 2009

As organizations of all shapes and sizes are making every possible effort to deliver greater value to their business and customers, IT managers are being required to increase the efficiency of their operational infrastructure, systems and processes. As a result, a greater number of companies are signing on for the interoperability and IP peace of mind solutions offered by Novell Inc. and Microsoft Corp. through their business, legal and technical collaboration agreement.

In just the past six months, the two companies have signed more than 100 new customers, which is double the rate in the first two years of their relationship. In total, since their November 2006 collaboration agreement, the two companies have sold more than $200 million in certificates for Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server support and maintenance to more than 300 customers. The latest customers to sign on include companies in a broad range of industries and geographies, such as Boise Inc., Idaho Power Company, Honeywell Aerospace, La Poste, Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G), SC Johnson, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sky TV and St. Jude Medical Center.

"In today’s economic environment, when customers are looking to derive the greatest value from their IT investments, we are seeing an increased rate of demand for the interoperability solutions and IP peace of mind benefits provided by our collaboration," said Ted MacLean, general manager for Strategic Partnerships and Licensing at Microsoft. "Consistently positive feedback and sales results demonstrate that our relationship with Novell has been successful in delivering interoperability solutions that help our customers showcase the value IT contributes to their business."

"The partnership has substantially benefited Microsoft's Linux integration story and has driven Linux revenue for Novell," states 451 Group analyst Jay Lyman. "The development and work by the two companies to improve Linux and Windows interoperability addresses the reality of mixed enterprise environments for customers, who were largely the impetus for this collaboration and are now benefiting from the resulting technology and support."


Customer Uptake of Novell’s Expanded Support for Linux Distributions
Microsoft and Novell have made a number of investments to help customers derive the greatest possible value from their IT investments, including Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Subscription with Expanded Support. This package provides technical support for customers’ existing Linux deployments — including Red Hat Enterprise Linux —while the organization transitions to Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, gaining significant cost savings and enabling the benefits of interoperability. There has been strong initial customer interest in the program since it launched in November 2008, and more than ten percent of new customers in the past six months have signed on for this support package. One such customer is U.K.-based 2e2, one of the fastest-growing IT managed services and solutions providers in Europe.

"At 2e2, we deliver mission-critical managed outsource services, data management, software consulting and unified communications solutions to large enterprise customers that demand quality," said Ciaran Cosgrave, director of Managed Services for 2e2. "We believe that the Microsoft and Novell relationship offers a number of real commercial, legal and technical benefits to our customers, and because of this, we will be supporting the initiative across the majority of our business divisions. We are very impressed with the innovative Expanded Support Program that gives customers simple access to 24x7 support, delivered through a single company, Novell, irrespective of what major Linux distribution is being run. This creates simplicity while at the same time reducing cost. 2e2, with assistance from the Microsoft and Novell relationship, is well positioned to deliver its customers the services they need, at the price they want, in these difficult economic times."

"Solutions like Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Subscription with Expanded Support allow customers to standardize and consolidate on a single, enterprise-grade Linux environment," said Susan Heystee, general manager for Strategic Alliances at Novell. "Customers get the immediate benefits of lower total cost of ownership and proven interoperability, all with the assurance of world-class support for their legacy Linux environment."

Market Growth in China and Asia Pacific Region
A specific area of focus for Novell and Microsoft has been in China and the Asia Pacific region, where the two companies made an incremental investment one year ago to help transition unsupported Linux users to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscribers. As more organizations in those markets seek to bridge the gap between open source and proprietary software, the Novell-Microsoft investment is paying off, evidenced by the more than 50 new customers throughout the region that have signed on for the companies’ joint offering of interoperability and IP peace of mind for mixed-source IT environments.

"The interoperability and intellectual property peace of mind supplied by Novell and Microsoft are valuable and significant," said Zhao Wei, manager of the IT department for State Grid Corporation of China. "That is something that other Linux vendors were just not able to provide. The collaboration between these companies is what is driving our consideration to standardize all of our Linux servers on Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, as this is the optimal distribution for interoperability with Microsoft Windows Server."

Novell and Microsoft have signed on more than 30 new Chinese subscribers over the past year, and similar interest is spreading quickly within the neighboring markets as well, with more than 20 new subscribers in Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan. A partial listing of these organizations can be found below.

"We believe that this collaboration will produce tangible cost-reduction benefits to every customer that is considering a dual platform strategy based on Microsoft Windows Server and a single widely available Linux server distribution," said Leo Cheng, IT manager with Unitech Printed Circuit Board Corp., based in Taiwan. "In our opinion, Novell SUSE is the logical distribution of choice for existing Microsoft Windows Server customers that want both optimized virtualization solutions and extended systems management capabilities now and in the future."

Delivery of Real-World Interoperability Solutions
The business and legal aspects of the Novell-Microsoft agreement opened the door for the two companies to work together to develop technical interoperability solutions. Now, more than ever, these solutions offer significant value for customers running both Microsoft Windows Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

"The primary impetus for our joint Interoperability Lab was to increase the value we can deliver to customers," said Tom Hanrahan, director of the Open Source Technology Center at Microsoft which includes the Microsoft-Novell Interoperability Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "We felt that it was critical to set up a collaborative environment dedicated to delivering better technical interoperability so that the testing and development work performed in the lab could directly influence features and capabilities as they are being engineered into our respective products."

The Interoperability Lab has already tackled projects spanning a wide range of customer-focused interoperability concerns, and continues to make progress through programs encompassing virtualization, systems management, server workload validation and rich media support. One such example is the development of Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Management Pack for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager, which, when it is released later this month, will extend the monitoring capabilities within Microsoft System Center Operations Manager R2 across seven SUSE Linux Enterprise services and enable customers to monitor both their Linux and Windows system environments through one console.

"The early spirit of cooperation that Microsoft and Novell have taken with the Interoperability Lab since its inception has helped it to evolve into an intermediary point for our two companies, and has also influenced additional programs and projects," said Suzanne Forsberg, senior software manager for Novell and co-manager of the Cambridge, Mass. facility. "The result is that we contribute our respective strengths to create practical and beneficial solutions for our mixed source customers."


About Microsoft

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About Novell

Novell, Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL) delivers the best engineered, most interoperable Linux platform and a portfolio of integrated IT management software that helps customers around the world reduce cost, complexity and risk. With our infrastructure software and ecosystem of partnerships, Novell harmoniously integrates mixed IT environments, allowing people and technology to work as one. For more information, visit

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