Novell CEO sees SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 in the data center

At the Open Source Business Conference, the company reveals an expansive vision of the data center to go with the new version of its Suse Linux operating system.

Ron Hovsepian, CEO of Novell Matt Asay/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO--Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian kicked off Open Source Business Conference 2009 here on Tuesday, highlighting Linux momentum, even as the economy craters.

Despite some negative news in its recent earnings announcement, Novell's Linux business has been growing by roughly 30 percent every quarter.

Importantly, Hovsepian discussed innovations that Novell has released in SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 that make Linux the engine of a bold move into the data center and beyond.

Hovsepian highlighted some recent analysis from IDC suggesting that Linux and open-source software will continue to grow through the recession, but he emphasized that this growth isn't solely driven by open source's superior cost proposition. Open source also provides a compelling value proposition, even as it drives virtualization and cloud computing, two areas in which Novell is investing heavily.

Even as Linux booms, however, Hovsepian highlighted IDC data suggesting that it won't fully blossom without interoperating with the existing Windows world:

  • Forty-nine percent of customers surveyed said Linux will be their No. 1 operating system for new server deployments within five years;
  • Sixty-seven percent rank interoperability between Linux and Windows as a top concern.

Novell believes that the data center can and must extend beyond the four walls of an enterprise, and its newly released SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 is positioned to grow Novell within and beyond the data center. Enterprises must connect the future of cloud computing to their past legacy investments, which comprise up to 70 percent of any data center.

Enterprises are also increasingly looking to build private clouds, disaggregating the operating system and database from the company's physical hardware, while connecting to public clouds like Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to add resources on-demand.

Not surprisingly, then, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 is designed to run in each of these environments, making it easy to manage computing workloads.

Before the show, I asked Justin Steinman, Novell's vice president of solutions and product marketing, why enterprises should choose Suse Linux over Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Steinman's response? Interoperability. Steinman notes that while Red Hat has announced its own interoperability deal with Microsoft, it's fairly light. Novell, for its part, has done work with Microsoft to ensure that Microsoft technologies such as ActiveDirectory and System Center work alongside Linux deployments.

Steinman also suggested that ubiquity separates Novell from Red Hat:

We've got preloads with a range of (original equipment manufacturers) for Netbooks, notebooks, Net tops, desktops, and more. Because Linux has such a small footprint, you can get the full functionality of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop on a Netbook: Windows can't do that, and Red Hat doesn't have that range of deployments, either.

Try running Suse on your Netbook: we've made no compromises. You can get full functionality like OpenOffice and Webcams on a tiny Netbook. It's pretty powerful.

I like this technical differentiation that Novell is increasingly developing to compete with Microsoft and Red Hat. Novell's history is one of technological innovation, and it's starting to revisit that innovation. It's very, very good to see.


Follow me on Twitter at mjasay.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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