Messman explained in an interview with vnunet.com that the current plethora of operating systems could not last in the corporate environment because of the development costs of designing hardware and software to take advantage of them.
"Because of the costs of software and hardware development you'll find two major open source operating systems left in a few years: Red Hat and Novell," he said.
"There will still be hobbyist systems, but for business two is perfect; any less and you've one company dominating to the detriment of the industry, any more and development costs go way up."
Messman added that the two companies have different business styles which would help them complement each other.
Red Hat is committed solely to developing open source code, while Novell will sell proprietary code as well, providing it is built around open standards.
Nevertheless the two companies are competing fiercely. The day after Novell announced full support for virtualisation for Intel and AMD processors from this summer, Red Hat said that it too was working on a virtualisation system that is processor independent.
"Conservative estimates show that servers typically operate at between 15 and 25 per cent of CPU capacity, but with virtualisation that could improve to 80 per cent," said Brian Stevens, chief technical officer at Red Hat.
"Our customers will be able to ride this next wave of virtualisation to further reduce costs and increase operational efficiency.
"Red Hat's strategy is to methodically target and reduce every cost driver associated with deploying IT infrastructure, and we believe that integrated virtualisation will be a major milestone in this effort."
Red Hat plans to release the technology this summer, on the same timescale as SuSE Linux 10.
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