"Open Office.org and MS office to interoperate"

by Anuradha Ramamirtham    Jun 01, 2007

Could you elaborate on the Business Model that Novell uses
We follow the enterprise level business model at Novell. Enterprise Linux is about a subscription based business, where updates, patches, upgrades, and certifications are delivered to customers with a guarantee that the certifications will not be invalidated, and with an availability of support services.

So, customers, if they find a bug in the kernel, apache, or the openOffice.org, engage in our support services and get the individual bug fixed. This individual bug then goes into the maintenance update of all of the customers, and also goes upstream to the Linux community so that we don’t have to fix it again in the next version, which is released later. This is the general business model.

Apache is supported and is the product of SUSE Linux Enterprise. Some companies are supporting LAMP Stack on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). How is this possible when LAMP is already available on SLES?
There is no need actually, for companies to separately support LAMP Stack on SLES. We do support it already, and there were some companies who started to engage in that because we failed to tell customers that things like LAMP are already supported by the SLES. Today, we support Apache as a part of the subscription, but for MySQL you need to have an additional subscription license with MySQL.

How do you see Red Hat as a competitor to Novell? They have recently come up with RHEL 5, what do you think about it?
Red Hat certainly is a competitor, on both the server and desktop space worldwide. But, through SLES we have gained a considerable amount of market share, particularly in the enterprise Linux in the US and Asian markets. We were not able to engage in so many resources while we were SUSE before the acquisition.

The secretary and vice president of Red Hat said that they do not care about the applications that customers are running on top of the desktop. The enterprise desktop space is not only about the OS. It is about Firefox and OpenOffice.org. It’s about evolution. It’s about the end user facing applications that are part of open source space top, which you need to support, and Red Hat fails to provide a good version of OpenOffice.org. They fail to provide the capacities required for evolution. This is where our customers benefit from us being the second largest competitor to OpenOffice.org, and from our interoperability agreement with Microsoft.

We have agreed with Microsoft that office formats from, both Open Office.org and MS office will interoperate with each other. There will be translators available, and we would support the later as part of OpenOffice. Many customers don’t want to go to Linux in one step, and this is also a form of validity, internally. What customers want to do is start on with OpenOffice and Firefox on windows, and migrate to desktops. The second step is to move everything on the line of the OS. We also support OpenOffice.org on Windows as part of SLED. Red Hat is also failing to provide desktop search. Desktop search is very important to our customers. With beagle we are providing a very nice tool. Our competitor doesn’t realize that it is not about the OS and the desktop; it’s about the applications, and the feasibility of it for the end user.

What are your current India relevant projects for SUSE?
We plan to increase our revenue, so we are building an ecosystem with the local partners to reach more and more customers. We are also focusing on our large customers like Elcot. Building the ecosystem is relevant to India. Another thing relevant to India is evolution. We have dedicated engineers in Bangalore who do evolution and interconnectivity with the community. They are not just an extension of our engineering team, they own the complete project. We do have a lot of support services in the country. We are now providing desktops in a supported way for 5 local languages.

Talking about Elcot, they are running SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, but they are using the Red Hat Enterprise Linux server?
It’s really up to the customer. The facts are the brand recognition of Red Hat on the server is higher, and there is no doubt about it. However, with SLES we have come up a lot by including virtualization in the product, a high availability storage infrastructure, easy to use security products, automatic hardware support, and much more certification. There are workloads like SAP, which are very well suited to SLES user case, and we have gained a market share in enterprise Linux from the server side in 3 years, from 9% to 25%. We see that we would continue to gain based on the products we bring. However, it’s also correct that customers for quiet sometime have deployed more Red Hat Enterprise server than SLES server in this country. In my view, it’s a matter of time, new installations are done based on SLES by many customers and many customers now realize that they have 2 OS in the environment - Windows and Linux. There is one Linux OS with SUSE Linux, which interoperates with MS environment and is embraced by Microsoft, and they have a choice to buy an OS which interoperates with MS.

How do you plan to expand in India? What are the projects important for the Indian market? What are the important verticals that are to be targeted?
Right now it is about localization of the structure with business partners engaging, global alliance partners doing something around education, and from a vertical perspective, financial verticals are a very important project for us. Government, retail, and distribution are very important verticals for us. Particularly in the financial industry, we would continue to engage in a good way. We have something in the products side that will be interesting for India as well. Our SLES real-time product, which brings better majestic performance, is good for trading, and offers our customers value, which other OS including our Linux competitors are not able to deliver.

What do you think of Microsoft’s comments on Linux as its product?
It’s a competition. We continue to fight. Every server MS thinks it should run windows, and we think it should SLES. Such pieces are an area where we agree to disagree. This agreement shows Linux customers that they can do Linux in a big way.

GPLv3 recently had a third draft discussion to include a clause to prevent such partnerships (Microsoft-Novell). What do you have to say about it?
GPLv3 is still in draft level, but the consequences of the current draft are that we can continue what we have done. Every single step will be discussed with the software foundation. For example, there are four forums, which continue to discuss GPL. We are part of the vendor forum deal and we will continue to discuss, without engaging in future public speculation.