Novell pushes agile infrastructure vision

The networking and open-source specialist claims it is well positioned to instigate a 'revolution' around agility and flexibility in enterprise computing
Written by Andrew Donoghue, Contributor

Novell has kicked off its annual user conference by announcing ambitious plans to instigate what it claims is "the next revolution in the IT industry".

Speaking on Monday at the BrainShare event in Salt Lake City, Utah, the company's chief technical officer, Jeff Jaffe, claimed that Novell was uniquely positioned to make IT infrastructure more agile — something that IT departments are crying out for, he claimed.

"We are onto something. Enterprise computing will change and we will be at the centre of it due to our unique positioning," said Jaffe. "If you talk to a chief information officer today, then infrastructure is anything but agile. In a word, that is Novell's vision for the future — the agile infrastructure."

While Jaffe admitted that the idea of flexible, or agile, computing infrastructure appears to be an "oxymoron", he claimed that computing tasks should make use of the best infrastructure available.

Novell has named its agile strategy "The Fossa Project", apparently after a Madagascan cat-like creature which is closely related to the mongoose. The carnivorous creature is currently on the endangered list, due to its slow maturity rate and the destruction of its habitat.

Foss is also the acronym for "free and open-source software", explained Jaffe: "If you Google for an agile animal, then you get the Fossa; we like [that] the name sounds like free and open software with agility."

Fossa is apparently the fruit of three months of collaboration between senior Novell managers. The company claims that Fossa will provide organisations with the flexibility to deploy IT systems. "The ability to help build the agile infrastructure and then apply that technology to real customer problems sets Novell apart from the competition," the company stated.

It is not clear at this point whether Fossa is anything more than a way of tying together various Novell products, such as open-source, virtualisation and identity-management offerings. However, Jaffe was keen to point out that Fossa is more than simply talk: "Aside from being a vision, it is also real."

Fossa will be seen by many as an attempt by Novell to answer critics who have claimed that the company has always had very good products but has failed to present the benefits to customers. Along with the Fossa vision, the company is also pushing the mantra that it is uniquely placed to help companies manage the integration of open-source and proprietary software.

"Our focus is on being a leader in software for enterprise infrastructure. It is all about integration in the mixed IT environment. I don't see [Fossa] as something that is five years out; I see it as being much closer," said Novell chief executive Ron Hovsepian.

Novell acquired Linux distributor Suse in 2003, and went on to broker a deal with Microsoft in 2006 based around safeguarding customers of its open-source software products from legal action.

Microsoft has claimed that Linux violates around 235 of its patents and has threatened to prosecute open-source companies and their customers. However, earlier this year, the company appeared to be softening its legal stance against Linux, but left the window open to prosecute companies who profit from the open-source operating system.

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