This year's Novell BrainShare user conference in Barcelona saw the company in a buoyant mood, with aggressive plans to push Linux everywhere from the data centre to the desktop.
To explain these plans Jack Messman, chief executive, and Ronald Hovsepian, president of worldwide field operations, took time out from their hectic schedules for an exclusive interview with vnunet.com.
You've mentioned using the launch of Microsoft's Vista to push open source onto the desktop. How major a campaign will this be?
Jack Messman: We're doing it in concert with the open source community and targeting all companies. There are companies that require the thick client functionality on the desktop that Microsoft provides. While our desktop doesn't have that functionality, we believe that the community will close that gap in function by the time Windows Vista comes out.
Microsoft always points to cost of migration as a reason to stick with its software. I believe that the cost of migrating from XP to Vista will be higher than migrating to Linux. It's a good time to make the switch.
Ronald Hovsepian: We have programmes in place to target that migration, and we're also doing it with partners in the industry. We also have targeted programmes for Windows NT users right now. Customers must be aware that they have a choice, that to choose Microsoft is not a fait accompli.
Many IT managers are still nervous about making the switch to open source. How can their fears be allayed?
Jack Messman: We made the migration ourselves. We went from Windows Office to Open Office and are now migrating to Open Office on Linux, which is 60 per cent done.
We've had issues during the move and this has helped us find the solutions we can give to customers, and we have contributed back to the open source community on how to solve them. We've also had observers documenting the move and its cost savings, and we've saved $2m ourselves.
Is it possible for a company to be totally open source, and is this the path you see for Novell?
Jack Messman: You can be totally open source if you want to; our competitor in Linux claims to be open source for example. But our customers are heterogeneous and that will be reflected in us as well. We think you have to be 'mixed source' to an extent.
Ronald Hovsepian: Open source is a development methodology and a licensing approach to the marketplace. Our strategy around open source is to raise the bar to open standards. Does a customer care that an application is open source? Not really. Instead it's to do with better production and more security. They are doing it because it makes their business better. It's OK to get proprietary software that has open standards too.
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