What should we think about mixed source?

Summary:Enterprise analysts are cheering Novell's delivery of a "mixed source" solution. It's an application stack combining the JBoss open source application server, the proprietary Oracle database with its Real Application Clusters, and Novell's own SUSE Linux, all running on H-P hardware.

Enterprise analysts are cheering Novell's delivery of a "mixed source" solution.

It's an application stack combining the JBoss open source application server, the proprietary Oracle database with its Real Application Clusters, and Novell's own SUSE Linux, all running on H-P hardware.

Analysts assume enterprises demand support and a guarantee that the parts they buy will work together well. Novell has tested this combination through its Validated Configuration Program and says everything is A-OK. It will ship in the third quarter.

There's a lot riding on this. Novell's old networking business is drying up like Utah after a spring shower (yes I know they're now based in Massachusetts), and the company was back to its money-losing ways in the last quarter.

The ZDNet UK story on the loss surrounds a Microsoft ad, and I'm sure the irony was unintentional. But it does bring up a key point, namely Microsoft's continuing inroads in the enterprise space.

What should set off alarm bells on Cath Everett's piece about the new offering is how the analysts were sharply disagreeing on where this bundle would play best. Some said large organizations will use it to consolidate their open source assets. Others said medium-sized businesses, Novell's traditional bread-and-butter, will lead the way here.

Personally I don't know what to think. Novell has bet the company on Enterprise Linux, and this is a key event in its history. On the other hand I know Linux purists are not going to be happy seeing their Penguin thrown into a proprietary zoo.

The real question should be, does it deliver value? Will it give more trouble free service, with more data, for less money than the alternatives? And if you do buy into this, what sort of desktops are you going to run under it?

How much of Linux' future is riding on Novell's shoulders anyway? If the company failed would that significantly damage the Linux cause? 

I tend to doubt it. Customers like consistency, and Novell has re-invented itself more times over the years than Madonna. Even if this is the right move will it be seen as genuine, something customers can bet their own futures on, or as just another extreme makeover?

Yeah. Time will tell.

Topics: Open Source

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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