The head of a B.C. Linux reseller says it was a “”no-brainer”” to become a Novell partner after the software vendor bought one of the biggest open source operating system distributions earlier this year. That’s why LinuxMagic became a member of Novell Inc.’s PartnerNet about a month ago – one of

thousands of resellers the company says it has quickly signed up after it bought SUSE Linux.

“”When Novell announced they were buying SUSE, that brought a really big player into the field,”” said Michael Peddemors, CEO and president of Surrey-based LinuxMagic. “”There’s a lot of companies still running Netware because it’s been good to them. Now (the companies) have got all of the advantage of Linux and a good structure like Novell behind them.””

Last month Novell announced that more than 10,000 software developers have joined its developer program in the last six months and that channel partners and independent software and hardware vendors are partnering with the company at a “”record pace.””

Novell has more than 3,500 channel partners worldwide in its PartnerNet program and thousands more selling Novell technologies. (PartnerNet was recently broken into three groups: solution providers, technology partners and training partners.)

Since Novell announced its Linux strategy in 2003, it has seen the number of channel partners who support the open source OS in their business jump from 15 per cent in early 2003 to 55 per cent. James Simzer, Novell Canada’s director of sales and channel said partners are critical to Novell’s success in expanding into the Linux market. Simzer added Novell offers partners several advantages over other Linux distributors including deep enterprise expertise and installed base, identity and resource management and global reach.

This year Novell strengthened its commitment with key acquisitions including Ximian, a desktop version of the OS, and SUSE, giving it a broader range of partners in North America.

Other important factors in the growth of the software vendor’s Linux strategy include the addition of over 100 SUSE Linux-based products to Novell’s Partner Product Guide; expanded relationships with existing IHV partners such as IBM and HP around training and go-to-market activities; and more than 5,000 registered users on Novell Forge, a site dedicated to hosting Novell’s open source projects, in the last three months.

Peddemors said LinuxMagic, which has supported Linux for seven years, has always found the OS to be a great fit for its clients. It also recognized that SUSE is one of the top distributions.

“”As much as Linux might be a great product, (customers) also like to have a great solution behind them,”” he said.

LinuxMagic is training its sales representatives to work its way up to becoming a Novell gold partner in the near future.

Ainsworth Inc., a Toronto-based consulting firm, has partnered with Novell for over 15 years and is a platinum-level partner. Tracey Harron, general manager of information technology services at Ainsworth, said it was very strategic on Novell’s part to buy Ximian and SUSE.

“”The Linux operating system market is the fastest growing market,”” said Harron. “”From a partner perspective we have a new offering in the marketplace. Customers have a push on Novell and Linux as much as Novell does. It’s great for the partner community.””

Ainsworth has had its sales and technical people trained to get up to speed on all of the new product offerings that come as a result of Novell’s purchases.

Harron said Ainsworth sees opportunities for partners in customers who are looking for stability around change as well as in applications, administration, development tools and global support.

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