Microsoft Cuts Deal With Novell To Support Suse Linux - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Software // Enterprise Applications

Microsoft Cuts Deal With Novell To Support Suse Linux

Microsoft and Novell will jointly develop virtualization technology to simplify running Linux on Windows and vice versa. Also, Microsoft will hand out coupons for maintenance and upgrades of Suse Linux and protect Suse Linux users against patent infringement claims from Microsoft.

Microsoft will provide sales support for Novell's Suse Linux and protect Suse users against patent infringement claims from Microsoft, according to the terms of a broad agreement unveiled Thursday by the two companies, formerly bitter rivals.

Microsoft and Novell agreed to work on virtualization technology to simplify the process of running Linux on a Windows machine and vice versa. In addition, Microsoft agreed to hand out coupons for maintenance and upgrades of Suse Linux. Novell would be responsible for the actual sale.

Chief executives Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and Ron Hovsepian of Novell announced the deal at a San Francisco news conference, held shortly after the deal closed.

Microsoft promised not to sue Novell for patent infringement stemming from code currently in Suse Linux, or future technology codeveloped by the companies or contributed by third-party developers.

The deal is designed to alleviate business concerns that Microsoft could one day claim Linux contains patent-violating technology. But the "patent covenant" doesn't protect all Linux users, only Suse users. "Novell is acting as a proxy for its customers, and only its customers," Ballmer said. "If they [businesses] want patent peace and interoperability, then they'll have to look to Suse Linux."

Microsoft and Novell were once bitter rivals. Ray Noorda, the CEO who built Novell, spent more than $1 billion to acquire companies to help compete against Microsoft in operating systems and office applications.

Microsoft still considers Linux and open source one of its main threats. Ballmer said in May that competing with Linux is one of the company's top priorities.

But the two companies were motivated to cut a deal because their joint customers demanded better interoperability between the platforms in virtualization environments, the executives said.

Virtualization allows IT departments to run multiple operating systems and their applications on the same computer server or PC. Virtualization can lead to higher efficiency in the use of hardware, but can also introduce management challenges.

While the companies agreed to work together on building bridges between their platforms, both plan to push their products first, offering the other as an alternative if the customer asks.

"Both companies will continue to compete," Ballmer said. "We both recognize the need for interoperability, so while we'll compete, we'll also cooperate in the right way."

For Microsoft, the deal isn't a response to customer demand alone. Microsoft recognizes that supporting Linux is pivotal if it hopes to overtake VMware, the EMC-owned market leader in virtualization software.

Microsoft in April stunned LinuxWorld attendees by pledging it would support Linux virtual machines on its Virtual Server. In addition, Microsoft unveiled free virtual machine additions for Red Hat Linux and Suse Linux.

Another element in Microsoft's virtualization strategy is to boost sales of its Systems Center management tools. The tools need to support virtual and physical environments to be successful.

More than eight in 10 companies are exploring, testing, or using virtualization technology, according to an INS survey of 100 IT execs.

Along with interoperability between Linux and Windows, the companies' engineers will also be looking to do the same between Microsoft's Active Directory and Novell's eDirectory, as well as develop better document translation technology for Microsoft Office and OpenOffice, an open source productivity suite.

In addition, the companies said they would work together on Web services technology for managing physical and virtual servers.

On the patent front, Microsoft counsel Brad Smith said the two companies had built a legal "bridge" between proprietary and open source software.

"I think that's a historic thing for our industry," he said.

The patent deal, however, doesn't cover the pending antitrust lawsuit Novell filed in 2004, challenging Microsoft's tactics in competing against Novell's desktop applications, WordPerfect and the Quattro Pro spreadsheet.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
How to Land a Job in Cloud Computing
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  6/19/2019
Commentary
How to Convince Wary Customers to Share Personal Information
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author,  6/17/2019
Commentary
The Art and Science of Robot Wrangling in the AI Era
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  6/11/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
A New World of IT Management in 2019
This IT Trend Report highlights how several years of developments in technology and business strategies have led to a subsequent wave of changes in the role of an IT organization, how CIOs and other IT leaders approach management, in addition to the jobs of many IT professionals up and down the org chart.
Slideshows
Flash Poll