Dell has long offered market-leading Red Hat Linux as an operating system that can be installed in the computer maker's factories. But second-place SuSE has only been available as a special option for customers willing to pay for a customized system.
Now the Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker is expected to elevate SuSE to Red Hat's level, sources familiar with the plan said.
"It's great news for Novell," said Gartner analyst John Enck. "They now have all the top-tier players." IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems--which along with Dell dominate the server market--already offer SuSE Linux installed on their servers.
Dell and Novell declined to comment for this story. However, executives from both companies have indicated the deal makes sense.
In 2003, Dell and Novell started working together to help ensure their products worked well for mutual customers, said Richard Seibt, then SuSE's chief executive. And Dell executives said in interviews last week that offering SuSE Linux fulfills one of its major priorities: giving customers what they want.
"There's demand for SuSE Linux. It's out there. We sell a lot of Red Hat today, and to small and medium businesses we sell a certain amount of SuSE Linux," said Paul Gottsegen, vice president of worldwide enterprise marketing at Dell. "They both have large market, SuSE particularly outside the United States."
Some of the groundwork for the alliance already has been paved. Dell and Novell signed a joint support agreement in January.