SALT LAKE CITY — Further cementing its role in open source computing, Novell Inc. Monday announced several product and strategic initiatives to help its customers and partners leverage Linux and identity-based technologies.
of its acquisition of Suse Linux last year has allowed Novell to change its focus to Linux and identity, said company chairman and CEO Jack Messman.
“The combination of Linx and identity is a powerful one,” Messman told 6,000 attendees at this year’s BrainShare conference here. “Businesses are turning to Linux because it helps them address their priorities.”
Increasing demand from businesses for information is creating complex challenges for IT, said Messman. “Three essential elements for meeting those demands are management, integration and security,” he said, adding the latter still ranks as the most important issue for chief information officers.
Following last year’s announcement of the Yast central management tool for Suse Linux, Novell announced the next release of its policy-driven resource management tool, Zenworks 7 Suite.
“The Zenworks suite will improve your ability to manage diverse IT environments,” said Messman, adding that the release marks the first systems management solution that enables users to manage their Windows workstations from a Linux platform. The tool also automates the complete lifecycle of Linux systems, allowing users to centrally manage their Windows and Linux desktops, laptops, servers and now handheld devices from whichever server platform they choose.
Other product announcements include Novell Linux Small Business Suite 9, an end-to-end, server-to-desktop Linux solution, and new features and a 10-year commitment for the next version of GroupWise, which will ship later this year.
Novell also announced two initiatives to grow its global partner ecosystem. Novell currently has 5,000 partners worldwide and more than 560 in its PartnerNet program ˜ a tenfold increase from this time last year.
On the integration front, Novell introduced a new program for open source application vendors to provide them with access to its global distribution and support infrastructure channels. Called the Market Start program, Messman said the initiative will be launched later this year.
“(Market Start) will leverage certification process, partner infrastructure and solution providers to help vendors reach worldwide markets,” said Messman.
Novell, for example, announced at last month’s LinuxWorld conference the availability of Suse Linux-based Novell Security Manager powered by Astaro Corp.’s network security solution that protects businesses against hackers, viruses, worms, spam and intrusions.
Novell also announced the Validated Configuration program to help speed up deployment of Linux solutions in the data center through the development of configurations that address enterprise business problems. These include security, high availability, virtualization, systems management and monitoring and application hosting.
“The market is transitioning away from complex implementations to more mainstream environments,” said Messman.
This initiative expands on Novell’s recently announced strategy to expand its data center solutions to support mission-critical applications like enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and supply chain management.
IDC Canada program manager Dave Senf, however, said despite Novell’s efforts to build out a partner ecosystem with these two initiatives, competition from other vendors is making it harder to do so.
“Novell is competing with HP, Microsoft and Sun for a finite number of partners,” said Senf, who attended this year’s conference.
In terms of security, Novell announced two identity-driven platforms, Application Services Foundation (ASF) and Identity Services Foundation (ISF) to help companies design systems that control access to information based on identity.
“Identity has become a very hot topic in the industry,” said David Litwack, senior vice president and general manager of identity-driven products group at Novell. Key drivers behind this trend, Litwack added, are widely disparate resources and devices, fragmented view of applications and identities, diverse, distributed audiences and severe security and privacy constraints.
“We had a huge opportunity that came to fore with the introduction of the Internet,” said Litwack. “We need to build identity-driven systems that can act on those identities in an appropriate way.”
As part of ASF, Novell announced the expansion of its partnership with Atlanta-based JBoss Inc., which provides resources, technology direction and core development for open source projects. Novell will donate code and engineering resources to JBoss Enterprise Middleware System (JEMS) and work with JBoss on projects including Jboss portal.
Senf, however, said he was looking for more from Novell on the applications side.
“Application deployment software is plummeting,” said Senf, adding that margins in infrastructure are dropping and the market is consolidating. “You need to tie into software applications but also to business messaging.”