Novell Buys SUSE


You've probably heard that Novell's buying SUSE Linux and taking a $50 million investment from IBM. Clearly this shows Novell is looking for be a player in a way that they could never accomplish by just selling applications and system add-ons for Windows. The acquisition of Ximian gave Novell a cache of great Linux products, but that doesn't really help them get out of their funk. Novell still has a large installed base of Netware customers that they need to migrate to a platform with a future---otherwise they'll lose those customers to Microsoft. Now they've got a server they can use to backfill Netware. They can't do that with a Linux server that they don't have pretty tight control over, so buying a Linux company is a natural choice: it gives them a product, lots of Linux expertise to tap, and some credibility.

This is probably a good thing for Linux users in general because Novell will likely some good work done on making Linux work well inside the corporate IT shop. Most large IT shops don't have the luxury of being a pure Linux or Microsoft shop. They have to be both. Linux has made some great strides toward being a good corporate citizen. This provides additional pressure in that direction.

In all, if I were a Novell shareholder, I'd be pleased with the decision. Its hard to see a huge downside from Novell's standpoint. I don't see it as a "let's beat Microsoft" move which has been the undoing of novell in the past. I see it as a legitimate strategy based on their installed base. The group of Linux users who distrust corporations in any guise will see evil lurking behind every shadow of this deal. I see it as just one more indication that Linux is getting stronger and more important.