The plan calls for Dell to market and provide migration support for Novell's SUSE Linux software. "Our customers have told us they want interoperability and expect technology vendors to work better together," said Rick Becker, VP for solutions at Dell Product Group.
Microsoft and Novell joined forces last November as marketing partners and to jointly create technologies that enable Linux and Windows to seamlessly co-exist in the data center. That capability is becoming increasingly important to large business software users who typically run a mix of operating systems on their servers.
Novell and Microsoft also agreed not to sue each other, or each other's customers, in instances where parts of Linux or Windows may intermingle.
Dell's participation in the alliance should provide an additional level of comfort for IT managers concerned about hardware issues that may arise when running Dell servers in environments that use both Linux and Windows.
Through the Microsoft-Novell alliance, customers purchase certificates from Microsoft entitling them to SUSE Linux support from Novell. Dell said it would buy an undisclosed number of the certificates and establish a services and marketing program to migrate existing Linux users who are not currently Dell Linux customers to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
Dell, however, said it would continue to offer Red Hat Linux as an option for enterprise customers.
Microsoft's alliance with Novell has resulted in some significant customer wins. Wal-Mart Stores, Deutsche Bank, and Credit Suisse, among others, have all purchased Novell SUSE Linux certificates from Microsoft.
But the program also has been dogged by controversy. Some members of the Linux community have claimed that it provides a means for Microsoft to inject patented technologies into Linux and then demand royalties from companies with which it does not have prior agreements.