SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Novell Canada Ltd. said Monday’s announcement that Novell Inc. will ship an enterprise platform that combines Linux and NetWare by the end of the year is an excellent opportunity for partners to “”jump on the bandwagon and get going with Linux.””

James Simzer, director

of sales for Novell Canada, who spent the last few days talking with over 300 partners at this year’s BrainShare Partner Summit, said now that Novell has clearly indicated its Linux strategy, VARs have an alternative to give their customers.

“”Partners can give their customers products with the confidence to choose the best of breed solutions and the confidence to stand behind their solutions,”” said Simzer, citing Novell’s partnership with IBM Corp.

If there was any indication of how Novell’s new direction has resonated with the channel, it was in the numbers. Partner attendance including independent software vendors (ISV), independent hardware vendors (IHV) and system integrators, at this year’s BrainShare conference doubled from 180 last year to 320. This year marks the first BrainShare, which is now in its 20th year, since Novell announced its adoption of Linux about one year ago.

Two years ago, Novell announced its re-engagement with the channel and is now calling on partners to help it deliver Linux solutions to the enterprise market.

Novell told conference attendees about enhancements to its PartnerNet program, including the addition of more than 560 of SUSE Linux’s global partners. Of the 560 SUSE partners only three are in Canada and 50 in North America. The company made these announcements last week at the CeBIT conference on SUSE’s home turf in Germany.

The PartnerNet program is now broken down into three separate groups: Solutions providers, technology partners and training partners.

Solutions providers, including VARs, distributors, channel partners, consultants and systems integrators will bring Novell and SUSE Linux solutions to market and provide business and technology services to customers.

Technology partners includes ISVs and IHVs who own, develop, distribute and support commercially available applications and hardware that support or integrate with Novell/SUSE Linux technology.

The third group, technology partners, includes academic and commercial education specialists who deliver online and classroom training to support Novell technologies and Novell certifications, including SUSE Linux training and certifications.

With everything under one umbrella, Novell partners will be able to leverage SUSE’s existing program infrastructure and vice versa.

SUSE Linux partners, for example, can retain their current benefits and are also automatically eligible to enroll in Novell’s PartnerNet program free of cost, giving them access to software evaluation libraries, training and ongoing channel programs and sales tools.

Simzer says partners on both sides will have more choice when offering solutions to their customers.

“”(Novell) has given partners a clear direction in how its going to leverage its existing partners and help SUSE partners get into Novell,”” said Simzer.

Ladd Timpson, worldwide director of channels and marketing for Novell said the company will keep Novell and SUSE partners separate from each other for now but plans to bring them together at the end of this fiscal year.

“”Our key objective is to build a Linux-ready channel. To do that, we have to empower the existing channel,”” said Timpson, adding Novell has introduced such measures including grandfathering programs and a welcome and awareness campaign, which launched at the LinuxWorld conference in New York City on Jan. 13 – a day after the SUSE acquisition was finalized. The campaign was put in place to ensure Novell partners have all the SUSE products in hand, explained Timpson.

Partners in the above three groups will have the choice to specialize in four areas: Linux, Secure Identity Management, Resource Management and Web Services.

Ainsworth Inc., a Novell Platinum Partner that specializes in all four areas, was one of the 20 Canadian partners who attended the three-day Partner Summit. Tracey Harron, general manager of information technology services for the Toronto-based firm, said its next step is to become a Linux certified partner. In order to do so, companies must have one sales person trained in Novell’s Certified Novell Salesperson (CNS) course and one engineer trained in its Certified Linux Engineer course. These courses will be available to partners starting in April.

Harron says this year’s conference compared with last year’s is “”really, really exciting.””

“”There’s a renewed passion for Novell. Everybody is on board with Linux. Linus Torvalds surprise appearance especially got all of the tech people very inspired.””

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