Novell is to give away its Small Business Suite Starter Pack, to help its channel partners target the buoyant sector.
The Utah-based network and services company describes the Starter Pack as "literally a network in a box, providing the full range of network services that companies need".
It includes management, web access, email, collaboration and security. Companies must pay only the cost of services provided by Novell's channel partners.
"Novell has long been a backbone of corporate networks, but small businesses have tended to think they can't afford the power of a Novell network," said Jack Messman, the company's chairman and chief executive.
In addition to delivering the Novell Small Business Suite through its channel partners, Novell will work with application vendors to redistribute the suite for free in conjunction with their small business offerings.
But Eddy Alejos, technical director at reseller Dynax, suggested that Microsoft had already eclipsed Novell for such software, and that it faced a tough job regaining market share.
"It's a good thing if they are giving it to customers. People that have never had it might be encouraged, because it is a good product for small businesses," he said.
"Novell packages are robust and do what they say, [but] the battle is on if they think they can turn it around this late in the game."
To be eligible for the programme, Novell channel partners must have a current Certified Novell Salesperson 6.5 on staff. Some regions will also require participation in Novell's PartnerNet programme.
"Novell Small Business Suite is our most popular small business package, and this initiative will only make it more so," said Terry Green, president of Novell partner VTI Computers.
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