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Dell Joins Microsoft-Novell Alliance

Dell has become the first hardware maker to join Microsoft and Novell in their effort to enhance interoperability between the Windows and Linux platforms.

As part of the agreement announced Sunday, Dell will buy SuSE Linux Enterprise Server certificates from Microsoft and push non-Dell Linux customers to the SuSE implementation of the open source Linux operating system.

The agreement states that Dell will form a marketing team to drive the effort, using three key elements: interoperability workshops, migration proofs-of-concept and migration services.

An interesting aspect of the agreement is that Dell already offers a Linux choice on its servers, but it's a chief competitor to SuSE: Red Hat Linux. Dell, however, may have been influenced by the initial success of the Microsoft-Novell partnership; since the initial announcement of the partnership in November, more than 40,000 new certificates for SuSE Linux Enterprise Server support have been activated, according to a Microsoft press release. That's more than half of the original allotment of 75,000 SuSE Linux Enterprise Server certificates Microsoft obtained as part of the deal with Novell.

That initial announcement of the Microsoft-Novell partnership shocked much of the IT world, as Microsoft and the Linux community have always been antagonistic, and at times at open warfare with each other. The deal between the companies was meant to smooth interoperability and manageability in heterogeneous environments that relied on both Windows and Linux. The cooperation extended to four main areas necessary for successful collaboration: virtualization, Web services management, document compatibility and directory and identity federation.

"Dell's embrace of the Novell-Microsoft agreement reflects a growing market reality: The two platforms of the future are Linux and Windows, and customers want them to work better together," said Susan Heystee, vice president and general manager of global strategic alliances at Novell, in the press release.

Dell, despite its rock-solid and extremely profitable relationship with Microsoft, has been trying for years to make Linux a viable alternative to Windows. It began selling Linux PCs in 1999, and added laptops a year later. It eventually abandoned the effort due to poor sales, but just last week, Dell announced that it will begin offering Linux again on consumer PCs, this time the Ubuntu distribution.

About the Author

Keith Ward is editor of Virtualization Review magazine. You can contact Keith at kward@1105media.com.

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