Novell, Microsoft in Landmark Deal

Here’s the text of an email sent to Novell customers this evening:

Today, Microsoft and Novell announced an historic new initiative. Important primarily because it means a lot to the communities we serve. Most notably, our customers. (See full press release).

Let me begin by quickly outlining what we just announced. Microsoft and Novell, starting today, have agreed to build and market solutions so that Novell’s technology works on Microsoft and vice versa. Specifically, customers will now be able to run virtualized SUSE Linux Enterprise on Windows or Windows on SUSE Linux Enterprise. This landmark agreement also calls for both Microsoft and Novell to provide patent coverage to each others’ customers for our respective products. Why is that important? It’s important because you shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time worrying about legal matters around which operating system to choose. You also shouldn’t have to worry about barriers such as intellectual property agreements, who owns which patent portfolio, and indemnification. None of those issues move your business forward. Now many of those barriers have been removed.

I am also proud that earlier today Novell and Microsoft demonstrated, by our words and actions, that we can work together for the mutual benefit of our customers. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, was very passionate and genuine in his support for this agreement. He spoke about how it will help our customers leverage both the Microsoft Windows platform as well as our SUSE Linux Enterprise platform. He mentioned how it will give customers like you choice and flexibility in building their technology environment. Choice and flexibility, something our customers often complain are in short supply. We’re determined to change that.

I’d like to build on what Steve said, and today I had the opportunity to make some of these points in person to the assembled press, analysts and industry experts. This agreement between us and Microsoft is a key cornerstone to our overall Novell promise to deliver the open enterprise to you, our customers. One where we can leverage a mixed environment- with open source and open standards based software- on your behalf. It’s an agreement that will accelerate Novell’s stated goal of helping you reduce cost, manage complexity and mitigate risk.

I titled this a \u201clandmark\u201d announcement, and I truly believe it is. Transformational in its scope and important to us and our customers on a number of levels. You may wonder how this changes our relationship with Microsoft. It’s no secret we’ve competed with them in the past. And we still will. However, it’s also important for us all to remind ourselves that all organizations, particularly in our industry, need to adapt and change. Further, for whatever differences we’ve had with Microsoft over the years, we actually share a number of the same values. A strong belief in building customer solutions, and an unwavering belief in the power of technology and innovation. And now, with this announcement, the ability for you to deploy the applications you want on the operating system of your choice for a total solution. All in a way that best fits your business needs.

This is the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for Novell. We know you want technology that features interoperability, choice, flexibility, and sustainability. We know you like to see your vendors working together on YOUR behalf. In fact, that is what this Microsoft/Novell agreement is all about. Working together to do a better job for you.

I’m truly excited about this transformational announcement. The payoff will be better results where it counts most. On helping you grow and innovate, and in turn delivering on your promise to the communities you serve.

Best regards,

Ron Hovsepian
CEO, Novell

The message also included links to a webcast of the announcement and more infomation.  In a nutshell  Novell and Microsoft will develop and deploy virtualiztion technolgoy that will allow Suse inside of Windows Server and vice versa.  This will be cross marketed.  There is a pledge to continue development of XML standards to allow MSFT Office and OpenOffice to share data and documents.  And in an odd nod to SCO v. IBM, they agreed in indeminify each other’s customers against any patent infringement that comes up in using Novell and Microsoft products together.

All in all, truly remarkable.  As we see more networking functions move into the cloud of the internet, desktop and network operating systems become less relevant.  I think this agreement acknowledges that trend.  It is Microsoft and Novell saying, ‘Look, use what you need, not what we tell you need’.  Now if only there are enough IT managers and admins to truly take advantage of this new world.