Microsoft-Novell: Oracle's the elephant in the room

Microsoft-Novell: Oracle's the elephant in the room

Summary: There's no way anyone can tell me that this Microsoft-Novell deal isn't all about Oracle

TOPICS: Microsoft

Microsoft and Novell did, indeed, announce a collaborative partnership deal, as expected, on November 2.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer emphasized throughout his remarks during the press conference announcing the deal that Novell and Microsoft have been discussing the particulars for months.

But there's no way anyone can tell me that this deal isn't all about Oracle. It's now a Microsoft-Novell vs. Oracle-Red Hat face-off.

(Keep in mind, Red Hat is a hostile -- yet smiling -- participant in this contest.)

Still doubtful? Buried in Microsoft's Novell-collaboration press release is this maintenance services nugget:

"Microsoft will distribute coupons for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server maintenance and support, so that customers can benefit from the use of an interoperable version of Linux with patent coverage, as well as the collaborative work between the two companies."

Update: I had a chance to ask about the Oracle elephant, following the press conference where Microsoft announced the Novell partnership. 

Bill Hilf, general manager of Microsoft's platform strategy (and Linux point-man), denied that the Oracle-Red Hat announcement had any bearing on Microsoft's partnership with Novell.

"We were on a path to get here all along," Hilf said. Microsoft wouldn't be agile enough to so quickly organize such a counter-event, Hilf joked.

Justin Steinman, director of marketing for Novell Linux, conceded a bit more:

The Red Hat-Oracle deal "might have acccelerated (our announcement with Microsoft) by a couple of days." But Novell had been talking with Microsoft since April 2006 about some type of partnership, he emphasized.

Me? I still think today's deal is still at least 99 percent about Oracle.




Topic: Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • About Time!

    With Microsoft's help, Novell will wipe the floor with them.
  • why?

    why do you think it's still about oracle? all you've given us is an anecdotal rebuttal to your own opinion.
    • why?

      I'd say that Oracle is much more of a real (and feared) competitor than Linux is, if you were creating a ranking of Microsoft's top competitors.

      When I heard about the Oracle-Red Hat deal last week, my first thought was: I wonder what Microsoft wil do to counter this. My first guess was Microsoft would partner with Red Hat to provide paid support for Red Hat Linux customers.

      But by partnering with Red Hat rival Novell, Microsoft is able to do something better: Deliver services for a subset of Linux customers (a la Oracle) -- plus drive a stake in Red Hat's heart. For Microsoft, it's the perfect one-two punch.

      I think it's a smart and dastardly move on Microsoft's part. And it will create for more confusion in the corporate piece of the Linux market -- yet another benefit for the Softies.
      Mary Jo Foley
      • also it pushes .net

        Don't forget Novell sponsors Mono, which will provide a platform to run .net framework on Linux.

        This means:
        * on Linux to counter Java & Tomcat
        * any CLR (in theory) will be able to run under Suse Linux.
        * One of the key features of SQL server 2005 is CLR abstract data types, which need support from .net framework.
        * maybe sell more copies of Visual Studio?

        Also they probably picked SuSE because it is the easiest to use (hence easier to support?).
  • Have you read Groklaw lately?

    Mr. Goldfarb, formerly of BayStar Capital, which for a while was investing heavily in the SCO group (hereinafter referred to as tSCOg-sothoth) swore in a deposition for IBM that they had made their investment based on assurances by a Microsoft employee that they would be covered. When they needed coverage, the employee was let go and Microsoft denied they had ever been made. You can find this deposition on the Groklaw site. With the license they bought from tSCOg-sothoth--which Novell wants the revenues from put in a constructive trust--there has been considerable speculation whether Microsoft is behind this suit. The evidence which has surfaced is starting to make it look more and more like they have to take more pro-active action than denying it if they want to avoid ending up in court.

    To a lot of us this announcement makes it look like that is exactly what they are doing. After all, the recent partnership with Real came after complaints and other issues. It has a lot of precedent in Microsoft's corporate history. If this is the case, there are other deadlines than the November 30 arrival of Vista which they have to be concerned about and Oracle's slaps at the people who made the products they are offering may be less of a concern than some potentially very serious criminal accusations that could show up soon unless they make sure there is enough evidence to the contrary.

    I'm not of course suggesting these accusations can be proven in a court of law but it would be surprising if, especially given the EU situation and anti-trust concerns in other countries, they weren't something Microsoft should be very concerned about.

    I've been blogging heavily about these happenings, such as:

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  • open source / Linux moves into business

    I'm not an expert, but this is what I think: probably this all means that Linux is about to become attractive to business. The deal is probably first of all about the patents, MS must be interested in the ones of Novell. Novell also get some bonus from MSs patents. Remember, MS pays off Novell heavily in the move.
    So probably nothing to do with Oracle, not directly anyway. And I don't see MS very happy in supporting any flavor of Linux, it's still the competition.
    I wouldn't be surprised if similar deals followed with other Linux vendors, except MS probably won't pay that much, it might even be the other way around.