Microsoft: Working Well with Novell

Jun 13, 2009

The current technical and financial collaboration with Novell seems to be pleasing Microsoft. Virtualization, file management and license sales are part of the success stories.

The partner companies consider Virtualization and the management of heterogeneous environments as concrete results of their collaboration. Since September 2007 Microsoft and Novell have been working in an interoperability lab on platform-independent software. Main target of their effort are the respective server products Windows Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). Novell called the newest version 11 of SLES the main achievement in interoperability with Microsoft products, including the integration of Moonlight, the Mono porting of Microsoft's Silverlight Rich Web technology. Partner Microsoft now announces its next R2 version of Windows Server 2008, which should operate optionally as a guest system with SES 11 in Hyper-V.

A further high point in the development is system management of mixed environments. The respective packages will be showing concrete evidence when they start appearing in the next few months: on Microsoft's end it's the System Center Operations Manager, on Novell's end the Linux Management Pack. Administrators can use them to oversee their Linux and Windows systems. The Microsoft System Center Operations Manager should manage seven not as yet revealed SLES key services. Further collaboration of these two partners with Dell should result in a few whitepapers that will describe this kind of heterogeneous virtualization.

Tom Hanrahan, while Microsoft's Open Source technology leader, can call a year and a half's worth of work a sign of progress. "Our customers continue to be pressed, both by increasingly economic uncertainty and financial pressures, to do more with less," he says. At the same time Microsoft has released its latest financial report. The last half year brought 100 new customers to the two companies, more than double the number of their first two years of collaboration. Cumulatively the partners sold over $200 million in certificates for SLED support and maintenance. Market growth in China and the Pacific region has also added 50 new customers for their mixed-source IT environments since April 2008.

At closer inspection, the numbers can take on a different angle. Ten months ago Novell claimed $153 million in Microsoft purchases of their licenses, with a further $100 million due back in November 2008. The $253 million makes Microsoft Novell's single largest Linux licensee. The newest numbers don't quite have these figures flowing back into their revenue stream.

To compare, Linux enterprise Red Hat in their last fiscal year quarter ending in February alone reported $139 million in subscription revenue.

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