In his opening keynote at the start of Novell BrainShare 2006 chief executive Jack Messman laid out the future for his company in an open source market that is changing rapidly.
Messman said that, while Novell will protect and support its existing NetWare customers, the company will focus increasingly on open source technology.
He argued that changing market conditions mean that cost is no longer the principal reason for choosing open source software.
"Cost is not the key driver; it is reliability and stability that are driving the market," he explained.
"Tomorrow's enterprises will be based on open systems, giving dramatic reductions in costs and freedom of choice, something the industry has not had for a long time."
Growth will come not just from existing customers but from overseas. Messman said that, while SuSE is being used by eight out of 10 Fortune 500 companies, the global market is now the target.
In China, for example, SuSE has a market share of 28 per cent, making it the dominant system.
New software will be crucial to the future success of Novell, according to Messman. He showed the final beta of SuSE Linux 10, due out in the summer, which he described as "the most advanced open source platform on the planet".
Other deals to be announced over the coming week will include a new agreement with Dell to get Novell software onto the hardware manufacturer's server range, and an increased focus on mobility and new office applications.
In the latter case, open source office applications have a real advantage over the competition because they allow companies to upgrade specific applications, such as spreadsheets, without having to buy new versions of the suite, according to Novell.
"Traditional workgroup suites require customers to upgrade all components at the same time," said Kent Erickson, Novell vice president and general manager of workspace solutions.
"This unique offering gives customers the ability to upgrade any component of the suite when a new version is available, independent of any other component.
"With this flexibility, we combine the competitively priced innovation of open source with Novell's workgroup leadership to provide a compelling solution for enterprise collaboration and productivity."
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