Sydney Novell user group welcomes MS deal

The president of the Sydney Novell User Group (SNUG) expects end users to benefit from Novell's new relationship with software giant Microsoft, but remains suspicious about Redmond's intentions.David Hayes believes the most obvious benefit will be from Novell and Microsoft employees dealing with customers using each others' products.

The president of the Sydney Novell User Group (SNUG) expects end users to benefit from Novell's new relationship with software giant Microsoft, but remains suspicious about Redmond's intentions.

David Hayes believes the most obvious benefit will be from Novell and Microsoft employees dealing with customers using each others' products.

Microsoft currently doesn't answer queries from its customers about Novell's software but this is set to change. "Microsoft will no longer push service calls to Novell when they know there's an answer," Hayes told ZDNet Australia.

"I think that culture might take time to actually filter through their service technical departments, to say: if you know the answer, give it out," he added.

Earlier this month, the old foes joined forces in a partnership aimed at integrating both their technological and business relations.

The head of SNUG also expects better interoperability between Novell and Microsoft's software products.

Hayes, who works in St Ignatius College's IT department, foreshadows an impact on the wider Linux and open-source community.

"If it's going to work with Novell and SuSE products, it should work with just about any iteration of Linux," he said.

Microsoft's interest in Linux doesn't surprise him since the operating system is a key server platform, coupled with the popularity of the OpenOffice.org office suite. "I think Microsoft would have seen the writing on the wall regarding the Linux community, and the momentum," he said.

There is little dispute over the popularity of Linux on servers. In October, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) predicted that Internet-related investments in Linux servers will be one of the highest growth areas in the global IT market next year.

Closer to home, the New South Wales government and Rural Ambulance Victoria have started shopping for new servers, designating Linux-based systems as highly desirable.

The NSW government, in tender documents, indicated that desktop and notebook vendors' ability to supply Linux-based systems would be a valuable characteristic. This requirement, however, is unusual given that the open-source operating system has struggled to gain acceptance on the desktops of Australian organisations. It is, however, widely used in server environments.

Hayes believes Microsoft's interest in wiping the slate clean with some of the ongoing legal action between the companies was a motivator for the deal.

However, he retains a degree of suspicion, saying he hopes Microsoft will not simply walk away from the Novell partnership after it expires in five years.

"I would hope that Microsoft don't just turn around and say 'thanks very much, got all we want out of it, see you later'.

"Because I have a feeling that a company of that size only does things where there's a financial benefit to them. So I'll be suspicious until they sign a further agreement after the five years," Hayes said.