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Novell slapped for impersonating Red Hat

Novell may want Red Hat's market share, but it's never going to get it without focusing on its strengths rather than Red Hat's alleged weaknesses.

It's no secret that Novell would dearly love to trade market share with Red Hat in the Linux market. Red Hat, however, isn't happy with at least one of Novell's chosen strategies for getting there:


As its white papers allege, Novell thinks it can offer high-quality support for SUSE Linux, the Linux distribution it owns and ships, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), the Linux distribution that it...doesn't. The company has been offering a migration plan from RHEL to SUSE since at least November 2008, but it recently raised the ire of Red Hat in Portugal in its marketing approach.

Santiago Madruga, Red Hat country manager for Spain and Portugal, reached out to a customer who had been approached by Novell:

Red Hat comments on Novell's ability to support RHEL Matt Asay

Madruga goes on to spell out the value of a Red Hat subscription, and clarify how Novell's support for RHEL systems would violate the terms of Red Hat's support contract with the customer.

He paints a dire picture, but the reality is that Novell is well within its legal rights to offer support for RHEL. Whether it's a good deal, however, is a completely different story.

Novell proclaims that Red Hat customers can save as much as 50 percent on their RHEL systems by moving to Novell to support them. I have no doubt that Novell does, in fact, charge less.

But I'm equally confident that cost shouldn't be a customer's primary reason for switching. If someone wants a cheaper RHEL, the best bet is CentOS, not SUSE Linux. "Cheaper" is simply not a compelling reason to jump from Red Hat to Novell.

Neither is the quality of Red Hat's support. CIOs have consistently rated Red Hat far above Novell, or indeed every other enterprise software vendor, for value. Either they're deluding themselves, or they are, in fact, being well served by Red Hat and its support team.

Instead, Novell should be focusing on the things it does really well, like its powerful SUSE Studio technology, which makes it super easy to build Linux-based appliances.

Novell is never going to be a better Red Hat than Red Hat. It should focus on being a better Novell. That positive message is what CIOs buy.