Novell announces small-business Linux bundle

Package includes Suse Linux Enterprise Server, Novell Linux Desktop, GroupWise server software and eDirectory.

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Novell has packaged several Linux-based products into a suite geared for small business, Chief Executive Jack Messman said Monday.

The package includes Suse Linux Enterprise Server, or SLES, for up to three servers; Novell Linux Desktop for personal computers; GroupWise server software for managing e-mail, contacts and calendars; and eDirectory for managing computers.

The software will be available March 31 at a cost of $475 per five computer users, up to 100. The server software may be used on up to three servers, Novell said. Messman announced the software at the company's annual Brainshare conference in Salt Lake City.

The package is the Waltham, Mass., company's latest move to elevate its Linux products. Novell, the biggest Linux seller after Red Hat, also is trying to compete against Microsoft and to convince customers of its venerable NetWare operating systems to move to Linux.

Messman said Monday that Novell is tailoring Linux for high-performance technical computing, a market increasingly dominated by clusters of lower-end machines running Linux. The open-source operating system has been popular in that market, in part because it's available for free, but that no-cost availability has made the business hard to reach for Linux sellers that want to charge a fee.

Novell hopes to change that. "In the next few months, you'll learn about multiple activities, from special pricing to high-performance focused components that we're currently working to deliver," Messman said.

Jump-starting Linux sales is important for Novell. In the company's most recent quarter, NetWare and SLES revenue were less than hoped.

Another part of the Linux push was the first shipment of Open Enterprise Server earlier in March, which includes a copy of SLES along with each copy of NetWare.

GroupWise promotion
Messman also announced on Monday a second program to give away SLES for free: The software will be included with a forthcoming version of GroupWise, code-named Sequoia, that's scheduled to ship this summer.

Novell announced in February that it's making a lower-end competitor to Sequoia, NetMail, into an open-source project called Hula. But customers shouldn't be worried that the move means an end to GroupWise, which will be supported until at least 2015, Messman said.

Two new versions of GroupWise are planned: "Aspen," scheduled for release in fall 2006, and "Cedar," scheduled for spring 2008. In addition, Netmail will be supported through 2010, and Novell will help customers migrate to Hula if they want, the company said.

Messman boasted that Hula is becoming a dominant part of the open-source software realm. "The initial interest and contributions to Hula show that Hula is already on course to become in collaboration (software) what Apache is to Web servers," Messman said.

GroupWise today competes chiefly with Microsoft Exchange and IBM's Domino and Notes.

Starting Market Start
Also Monday, Messman announced a new program called Market Start, through which Novell will help smaller companies promote and profit from their open-source software--in return for a piece of the action.

Market Start will combine Novell's Linux products with open-source software from companies that need a boost in sales and marketing. Novell plans to provide support for the products and expects to share revenue from their sales.

"Lots of venture-funded companies spend on R&D to develop their products, but a significant cost is getting it to market. If you spend $1 on research and development, you probably spend $10 to go to market," Messman said. "We'll ensure all the components work together and we'll take them to market through Novell sales channels."

Market Start will kick off with a small number of partnerships, said Angie Anderson, general manager of the program. "We hope to get at least two or three by the end of the year," she said. "But as we grow the program over the next few years, we easily see it going to the tens or hundreds."

Among the areas in which Novell is looking for Market Start partners is accounting, customer relationship management and health care. "We've got a list of 75 open-source projects we're looking at," Anderson said. "We're trying to slim that to 10."