I'm in Salt Lake City for Novell's annual BrainShare conference, and the buzz is all about Linux. For months, I've been quietly pestering my contacts at the software company for an explanation of how they're going to sell its aging Netware operating system and Linux simultaneously. It's one thing to talk up the wonders of open source; it's another to persuade longtime Netware users to switch.
Well, the answer, due to be announced later today, is breathtakingly simple. Novell will ... sell Netware and Linux simultaneously. When a customer licenses Netware, he'll also get a license for Novell's recently acquired SuSe Linux included in the price. For Novell, it's a sensible move: It's unlikely SuSe will lose many sales through this program, since any customer who's conservative enough to have held on to Netware all these years is unlikely to leap into Linux. Accordingly, Novell's making it easy for customers to switch. All the Novell network services that currently come with Netware will work identically on Linux, and with the new licensing program, customers won't have to buy a new operating system. In essence, they'll just flip a switch when they're ready.
Up until now, Novell's Linux story has been mostly splashy deals. Now, the company's showing that it's got a strategy behind the $250 million its plunked down to buy SuSe and Ximian.