Microsoft and Novell: Relationship 'exceeding expectations'

Microsoft has sold US$220 million worth of subscription for Novell after just three years into the five-year deal, say companies' representatives.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Microsoft and Novell are close to completing the sales targets that formed part of their alliance, three years into the five-year deal, representatives from the companies said on Thursday.

Speaking at an IP Expo seminar in London, Novell's Microsoft alliance director Steve Harris and Microsoft's strategic partnerships chief Michael Croney said the results of the virtualization-centric arrangement had exceeded expectations.

"Microsoft has sold US$220 million worth of Suse Linux subscriptions for Novell," Croney said in the seminar, referring to the element of the Microsoft-Novell pact whereby Microsoft paid Novell US$240 million for subscriptions it intended to resell to its customers.

Speaking with ZDNet Asia's sister site ZDNet UK after the presentation, Croney said there was "a general feeling within Microsoft that the Microsoft-Novell alliance has produced better results than anticipated and this is reflected in the broadness of the alliance, and the increased focus on different technological components that were not anticipated at the outset".

He pointed to the work on Moonlight--an open-source implementation of Microsoft's Silverlight rich media technology--and directory federation as examples of this.

In August last year, Microsoft agreed to resell up to another US$100 million worth of Suse Linux subscriptions--it has bought already US$25 million worth and will continue to buy more subscriptions in US$25 million chunks, depending on how sales go, Croney said.

Harris said subscription sales were "more successful than [Novell] anticipated", while Croney said the extra subscriptions ordered showed "the partnership has exceeded [Microsoft's] expectations".

Asked about the impact on the Microsoft-Novell relationship of Microsoft's virtualization interoperability validation with Red Hat, announced on Wednesday, Croney said his company was "very pleased" about the validation, but Microsoft would still recommend Suse Linux over Red Hat Enterprise Linux to its customers because of intellectual property issues.

Whereas a fundamental element of the Microsoft-Novell deal was Microsoft's agreement to not sue Novell over alleged IP infringements in Linux, Croney said "Red Hat have not tried to address the IP assurance issue at all".

Harris reacted to the Microsoft-Red Hat deal by saying it was no surprise to Novell. "No technology can be maintained exclusively by any technology company these days," he said, adding: "We have already moved on, for example to managing that technology"--a reference to Novell's release of a product that allows Microsoft's management tools to monitor Suse Linux.

This article was first published as a blog post on ZDNet UK.

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