You know open source has arrived when the Boy Scouts of America start promoting its principles and adoption and the LDS (Mormon) Church starts hiring open-source developers. This week, we get both and more in today's edition of Random Sampler.The Boy Scouts of America have created a website focused on open source. It's designed "as a place for scouting leaders to go when they need an application for their troop events or when they want to help other troops with their software projects." It's also intended to add some end-user usability to open-source development, which has long been lacking from many projects. Good effort. David Ascher, Mozilla's email guru, went on the record to talk about the future of Mozilla's email project, suggesting that he's not interested in building an Outlook clone, but instead wants to bring "new energy" to email. Let's hope he succeeds. Hyperic keeps getting asked by its customers, "Who can we hire to administer our Hyperic IT management systems?" Among those asking the question? CNET and the LDS church. Nice to see my blogging and tithing dollars going to good use.… Read more
Most of the news on the web today pertains to Apple's announcement of the 3G iPhone, but there are a few other interesting tidbits worth heckling:Novell's GroupWise Messenger was found to contain a "moderately critical" security flaw, "which can be exploited by malicious people to compromise a vulnerable system." It's unclear that anyone was affected. I'll just leave it at that. :-) Apple has apparently cut off a primary source of revenue by forcing 3G iPhone buyers into two-year contracts and in-store activation. No more home activation via iTunes may mean … Read more
Ed Moltzen writes headlines an article with "Microsoft's Coupon Money Boosts Novell's Linux Numbers," which is true on its face, but not as interesting under the covers. Justin Steinman, Novell's head of Linux marketing, had told me a week ago that Novell's "non-Microsoft- related Linux business is growing."
This remains true. While Novell continues to redeem its Microsoft coupons for a healthy amount of money, the relative amount of money attributable to Microsoft is in decline.
Moltzen notes that Novell had $16 million in Microsoft coupons (quoting Novell's Ron Hovsepian, who … Read more
Are you a writer? Do you dream about writing the next great novel? Whether you're an accomplished novelist or just want to get an idea for what it takes to pull elaborate settings, characters, and plot lines together for a book, I came across a program for Mac you should definitely check out.
Storyist for Mac ($59) attempts to take some of the confusion out of writing by offering a Web browser-like interface that's easy to navigate and organizes the many parts that go into writing a novel. While your creativity is still the key to success, Storyist … Read more
Ron Hovsepian, CEO of Novell, took an unwarranted swipe at Red Hat for failing to show up to the Linux desktop market, but by Red Hat's own admission, it's not really interested in the traditional desktop market.
But Hovsepian has a point. Novell stands more-or-less alone in the enterprise Linux desktop market. Just ask Peugeot, Italy's parliament, and the others who use SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. Ubuntu owns the consumer Linux desktop market (through deals with Dell and others), but Novell may well stand alone (for now) in the enterprise market.
It's a bit like being … Read more
I'm closing up my quarter today (Not sure who said open source is easy, but.... :-), but wanted to highlight a few of the more interesting stories I read today.Despite my vain imaginings to the contrary, it turns out that Silicon Valley really is the center of the universe. Who knew? Well, except for you Silicon Valley smugsters? Actually, the real news in CNET's article is how much R&D is moving away from the Valley. Red Hat is revealed as the driving force behind The Simpsons, whose writer and co-producer (Joel Cohen) credits Red Hat Enterprise Linux by suggesting that "the volume and speed of material that was created for the movie could never have been done without that Red Hat-fueled system. Cohen also shows a true understanding of innovation by declaring his own inspiration comes from "shamelessly ripping off other people's ideas." TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld takes a fascinating look at the growth of YouTube relative to Google, but questions its seeming inability to turn popularity into cash: "Either YouTube is unable to make money from a large portion of its user-generated video inventory....Or YouTube just hasn't turned on the money-gushing hose yet." (Sounds like an open-source quandary, no?)… Read more
Yes, Novell has a ways to go to catch up with Red Hat, but with yet another strong quarter it's becoming increasingly clear that the enterprise Linux market is a two-horse race again. Importantly, Novell is competing much more strongly without backup from Microsoft.
Novell saw its Linux business top $29 million in its second fiscal quarter of 2008 ($30 million in total Open Platform Solutions revenue), up 31 percent over the same period a year ago, with other business units also seeing healthy growth. Only its Workgroup business unit continues to founder, down 1 percent in the period that ended April 30.
More importantly (to me), I asked Justin Steinman, Novell's director of Marketing for Linux and Open Platforms, how much of this is attributable to Novell's partnership with Microsoft. It turns out that Novell is starting to really grow its Linux business on its own, though it still looks to Microsoft as a strong partner to drive interoperability:
Novell's core Linux business is growing. By "core," I mean that our non-Microsoft- related Linux business is growing. These are Suse Linux Enterprise Server subscriptions sold directly by the Novell sales force or by our channel partners, without any Microsoft certificates or Microsoft salespeople involved.… Read more
A friend called me on Friday to ask what I thought about Novell. "Does it have a chance?" he asked?
The answer is increasingly, "Yes."
I never would have thought I'd be saying that, but whatever the cause of Novell's resurgence, it feels like the company is making a serious comeback. I've seen it with my own company, where an increasing number of our customers are requesting SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES).
Yes, it has yet to displace its competition: Ubuntu has more momentum but still lacks a winning revenue model that may hamper its transition from community standard to enterprise standard, while Red Hat continues to barrel forward yet doesn't feel as invincible as before.
But Novell's progress in its Linux business is nothing to sneeze at, with 65 percent growth in its last quarter. That progress is a direct result of its interoperability agreement with Microsoft, a relationship it has been extending of late.
I've harshly criticized this agreement because of the patent cloud it has placed over Linux, but after talking with a range of Novell SUSE/Microsoft customers about it, I'm increasingly convinced that the only company that is sold on the important of patent protection in the deal is Microsoft. As one recent customer noted to me, "The patent coverage for SUSE had exactly zero relevance to us in making our decision to go with SUSE."
Customers may be indifferent to the patent pact, but Novell's alignment with Microsoft has been very good so far for its business. Were that the only thing it was doing, however, it might not be much to cheer. Novell has been very busy on a range of different fronts:… Read more
It's my end of quarter, and I can't blog at the volume that you deserve. Only seven posts today....I have failed you! :-)
There were a string of posts, however, that deserve to be noted, even if I lack the time to comment on them in detail. Here they are:Dana Blankenhorn has one of his best posts yet, this time comparing Novell to a "lead pony" in horse racing. I'm glad to see Novell doing well with some areas of its business, but I agree with Dana that I'd rather see Novell doing this as a real contender, rather than as Microsoft's sidekick (On Novell's Moonlight, Dana writes "...to say [Moonlight] is open source is like calling a lead pony a thoroughbred"). Gordon Haff calls out the "natural" dynamics of markets that limit monopolies beyond a generation or two. In Microsoft's case, "shifting an entire product foundation is enormously challenging and past skill sets and ecosystem don't necessarily travel well from one generation to another." Bingo.… Read more
I posted a (substantiated) rumor last week about Red Hat getting first dibs on buying SUSE and ultimately passing on it. As it turns out, all sorts of people have come out of the woodwork to give me more information on Red Hat's near-miss on acquiring SUSE.
Here are a few gems, including a cameo role from Sun:Red Hat actually looked at buying SUSE twice. The first time was two years before Novell ultimately acquired SUSE, when SUSE was teetering on bankruptcy, and the second was during the negotiations with Novell. The first time, at least one senior SUSE executive took an urgent flight to the US to try to sell the company to Red Hat, but the efforts were shelved when additional venture and industry funding was found in time to prevent a bankruptcy;… Read more