SUSE Linux Makes Systems Management Unification Bid - InformationWeek

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1/21/2004
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SUSE Linux Makes Systems Management Unification Bid

SUSE CTO calls on IBM, HP, CA to work together on open-source effort.

Novell's SUSE Linux organization is proposing that IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Computer Associates International combine on an open-source systems management unification effort.

Juergen Geck, CTO of SUSE, told several hundred partners on Monday night that SUSE is leading the charge on a systems management open-source effort that would significantly reduce systems management complexity.

Geck's comments came on the heels of the launch of a one-day SUSE partner conference preceding the LinuxWorld show.

In an interview after his address, Geck said he is in the process of approaching IBM, HP and CA. The effort would require the three systems management giants to combine on a single set of APIs, said Geck. He pointed out that the three vendors have strong technology that could be moved into the open-source community. "This is an invitation," he said. "It is not a threat." That said, Geck said he believes it is inevitable that some vendors will step up to the challenge.

"SUSE is not going to get into that systems management space and try to be better than CA, HP and IBM," he said. "We wouldn't want to go do that. But I think we can help them just like we did [with vendors] in the Unix space."

Geck said he believes he can get the three vendors to work together on open-source initiatives that ultimately will end up consolidating and "commoditizing systems management just as much as we commoditized operating systems." The effort could save vendors hundreds of millions of dollars in development costs and free up countless developers to solve other IT problems, said Geck.

Geck envisions systems management components that could be free for vendors and for "systems integrators to build into custom systems where you really could have turnkey solutions for customers."

Geck said that all of the systems management vendors have strengths and weaknesses but are "reinventing the wheel on a daily basis."

Frank Basanta, director of technology at Systems Solutions, a New York-based SUSE solution provider, said he believes the open-source systems management unification effort will be successful. "It is not a question of when it is going to happen," he said. "It is happening now."

Systems Solutions is one of the partners benefiting from the increased adoption of Linux. The solution provider's Linux sales were up 100 percent in the fourth quarter and have tripled since the summer, said Basanta. "The Linux momentum is a tsunami," he said. "It's like a 60-foot tidal wave that nobody can stop."

Richard Seibt, CEO of SUSE, said SUSE's premium partners posted 200 percent revenue growth in 2003 and the "pipeline for 2004 is even more promising."

"The opportunities ahead are remarkable, and the roadblocks are becoming fewer and fewer," said Seibt. When Seibt mentioned Novell's recent indemnification policy for SUSE's Enterprise product, partners applauded loudly.

Seibt touted Ohio Caterpillar's migration of 800 users from Microsoft Exchange to SUSE Linux, a supermarket chain's move to migrate to SUSE for faster DB2 access, and a National Science Foundation network, billed as the world's fastest computer network, that is powered by SUSE Linux.

SUSE has about 500 solution providers worldwide and is recruiting partners in the United States, where it has about 60. The Novell unit is adding about four new partners a week, said Jay Migliaccio, U.S. channel development manager at SUSE.

Seibt said there are still big opportunities for partners doing server consolidation projects with SUSE Linux. He claimed some customers are only utilizing 5 percent of their IT resources and can achieve anywhere from 30 percent to 60 percent cost savings by migrating to Linux. "It is unbelievable," he said. "We are only at the beginning of server consolidation."

As for the sales growth predictions for 2004 for SUSE partners, Seibt said: "The growth we saw last year will pale, absolutely pale, in comparison to this year."

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