Novell is to investigate whether it can give customers the option of a Windows kernel for its Netware operating system.
Earlier this week the company said it will offer customers the choice between a Netware and Linux kernel for Netware 7, which is due next autumn.
And Carl Ledbetter (pictured), Novell's senior vice president of engineering, research and development, told vnunet.com the company also plans to research whether it can offer a Windows kernel option.
"A lot of our customers don't want to be trapped in any proprietary system. It is not that they don't want Netware, it's just that they don't want to be trapped," said Ledbetter.
Writing the abstraction layer and interfaces necessary to make Netware work with a Linux kernel is made easier by the source code being freely available, he added.
Novell has yet to set a time frame for developing a Windows kernel option, and does not know whether it would even be possible. "The issues with Windows are different," said Ledbetter.
"I have no idea how long it might take. We will do the research on it."
Tony Lock, chief analyst at Bloor Research, said opening up the kernel to both Linux and Windows was a smart move by Novell that would help get it platform coverage for web services. Having previously lost its way, the company was now back on track, he added.
"Novell really needs to open itself up and make itself the central place for interconnectedness. And that's where it is driving towards.
"It needs to make sure that businesses understand that when they talk to Novell they're not just talking about Netware but about things such as the management of web services," he said.
The number of Linux servers deployed is about the same as the number of Netware servers, but Linux is growing faster. By offering a Linux option Novell hopes to double its market.
Novell will test enterprise Linux versions from Red Hat and SuSE for use with Netware.
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