Users buy Linux on reliability, says Novell boss

Novell President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ron Hovsepian sees the acquisition of the JBoss application server by Red Hat as having "further validated our early adoption of JBoss."

When Novell looked at various application servers, "we chose JBoss ahead of Red Hat's own Jonas," says Hovsepian.

Novell still has a satisfactory contract in place with JBoss in its new guise, despite its favoring of the Suse distribution of Linux.

Some industry commentators have suggested that the Red Hat move will encourage IBM to seek a closer relationship with Novell on the open source front.

Hovsepian visited New Zealand for the first time last week to talk about the local market growth he foresees and about Novell's approach to the Suse-based platform. The company claims to have a consistent code base from mainframe servers through to mid-range servers and down to the desktop. "You, as Chief Information Officer, get to train your staff on one platform," he says.

Novell announced Suse Linux Enterprise 10 at its Brainshare conference last month. Earlier the same month, at Cebit in Hanover, it announced its Enterprise Linux Desktop.

The aim is to give business users a desktop that does not require them to be Linux buffs, says Hovsepian. And also to add the functions that the business user expects from a proprietary operating system such as Windows.

"We have focused on interoperability, interfacing it with common directories like Active Directory and e-directory," he says. Novell has transferred some of the macros from Excel to Open Office, easing transition. "We've focused on usability", conducting focus groups through to identify problems for the typical user in Linux's Gnome and KDE GUIs, says Hovsepian.

Business users' decision-making criteria on Linux have shifted from cost to reliability, scalability and security, says Hovsepian. "The biggest obstacle is communicating that value message. It's important to be able to show that the value [in terms of those three leading criteria] is there."

Meanwhile, Novell has bought e-Security, a maker of security management and compliance monitoring software, in a deal worth NZ$113.52 million (AU$95.15 million).

Novell has sold security and identity management software, such as Novell Identity Manager, eDirectory and SecureLogin, for a number of years.

Novell CEO Jack Messman says e-Security's flagship Sentinel 5 product will provide a single, real-time, cross-enterprise view of hacker attacks and other security violations.

Novell will start selling Sentinel 5 in May, with new versions of it available later this year.

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