Novell MD on getting along with Microsoft

Summary:In 2006, Novell signed a deal with Microsoft over sales and disputed Linux patents. Now Novell UK's new head, Sean McCarry, describes how that relationship is shaping up

Novell has so far managed to weather global economic uncertainty — at a cost of about 100 engineering jobs in early February. Novell UK managing director Sean McCarry, who was appointed at the beginning of February, is bullish about Novell's prospects, arguing that open source will become increasingly attractive to businesses because of its potential for cost savings.

The company signed a deal with Microsoft in 2006 to collaborate over sales and to license patents Microsoft claims to hold over Linux. ZDNet UK caught up with McCarry to discuss the relationship with Microsoft and Novell's strategy for working with the technology company.

Q: How is the relationship between Microsoft and Novell?
A: It's going really well and customers are reaping the benefits. That relationship really kicked off in 2006 and goes through to 2012. Microsoft has injected a large investment.

People are absolutely delighted with the Microsoft relationship. We've got HMRC, the Ministry of Justice, ITV, and a long list of customers who we are working with, on either Red Hat migration or proprietary migrations.

Some in the open-source community — Boycott Novell, for example — still have issues with Novell and Microsoft. Does this affect customer perceptions?
The interoperability agreement was driven by customers. They wanted Novell and Microsoft in the datacentre or for document management. Novell and Microsoft working together has benefited customers. To offer a true solution across the datacentre, Novell had to work with Microsoft — and this can only be a good thing for the open-source community.

Has the agreement affected Novell's standing in the open-source community?
Novell is one of the largest contributors to the open-source community and we do take the community very seriously. We have a Microsoft [press] statement we can send you about that, that might help.

Novell agreed to pay Microsoft licensing fees on the understanding Microsoft would not assert patents it holds that supposedly cover Linux. These patents have never been tested in court and have never been publicly specified by Microsoft. Did Novell make too big a concession to Microsoft in submitting to its patent claims?
I think the intellectual-property conversation is really complex, but I'm not the right person to talk to about this [at Novell]. One aspect of the agreement was protection for Novell customers.

How is Novell working with Microsoft on business products?
The main strategy is technological interoperability with Windows Server 2008. That's all about optimising hosting and memory of Windows Server 2008 with Suse Linux, and standards-based...

Topics: Developer


Tom is a technology reporter for, writing about all manner of security and open-source issues.Tom had various jobs after leaving university, including working for a company that hired out computers as props for films and television, and a role turning the entire back catalogue of a publisher into e-books.Tom eventually found tha... Full Bio

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