For the past five years Novell chief executive Jack Messman has attempted to turn his company into one of the major players in the open source world.
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In your keynote you said that the argument for Linux had shifted away from cost. What are the key drivers now?
The decision to go with Linux is no longer about cost, it's about stability, reliability and performance.
In the past the main selling point of Linux was that it was free, but sometimes when you get something for free you don't cherish it or appreciate its real value. Now people are learning that cost is not only reason to look at Linux. People recognise that it's about reliability and security.
But up until the past few years Linux wasn't a traditional market for Novell. What prompted the change?
Novell's whole background of getting into Linux was to put NetWare on a different sales track. It was becoming irrelevant in the marketplace a few years ago. Linux changed the direction of the company, we bought SuSE, and now our sales are on a different pattern.
Alongside your open source operations you've also restated your commitment to NetWare with the announcement that you'll support it for as long as people use it. Why?
Any business must recognise that the cost of hiring a customer is so much higher than keeping a customer. We want to maintain our installed base and sell them new stuff, and we'll do a good job of that.
It's not high handed at all. We didn't want to force them to switch to Linux in case they go to someone else. We will support NetWare forever if customers want it.
We're betting long term on Linux, and believe that our customers should switch at their own pace. We've made it very easy; you can migrate just by pushing a button.
I also believe that one of the advantages of keeping to our current plan allows customers to take advantage of new hardware developments.
We lost a lot of hardware support with the NetWare base being so much smaller. Manufacturers aren't developing new hardware for NetWare, but they are for Linux.
In the future our customers will be able to use virtualised NetWare on Linux, and use all the new hardware developments such as virtualisation and hyper-threading with existing code.
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