Software

Novell UK Boosts Consulting Power, Eyes Leaner Linux

Novell has announced that it has acquired Salmon, a British IT servicescompany, in a deal that will link Salmon with Cambridge TechnologyPartners, another Novell acquisition.

The company also revealed some efforts that it will be making throughits earlier acquisition of SuSE Linux. It noted that Novell isdeveloping a slimmed-down version of the product that will make desktopdeployments easier to support.

The two major moves could give Novell more clout in the UK, especiallyin the consulting arena. “This will allow us to build more consultingexpertise around Linux,” Novell UK country manager Steve Brown told LinuxInsider. “Obviously, with the acquisition of SuSEearlier this year, we want to build on that,” he said.

Faster and Lighter

The desire to produce a trimmer SuSE Linux version stems from the beliefthat the OS is in danger of becoming too top heavy, Brown said. Thelatest version, SuSE Linux 9.1 Professional, comes with 3,000 packagesand seven Web browsers.

Novell is working toward creating a version that has a smaller footprintand supports only one browser. The company noted that this would make iteasier to standardize Linux deployments within a single enterprise.

Also a focus for the version is simplifying set up, in order to reducethe amount of set-up questions coming in to Novell support lines.

Pairing Up

The use of Salmon will help Novell keep up with consulting demandsurrounding Linux, in general, and SuSE, specifically.

Brown noted that Novell will first work on integration at the clientlevel and then move on to broadening what the Salmon and Novell teamcan offer.

“Eventually, we’ll be able to expand Salmon’s use,” he said. “We’ll alsohave more leadership and advancements in our sales cycles.”

Given the amount of attention that Linux-focused companies are puttingon services, Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio said she is not surprised atNovell’s moves. She told LinuxInsider that companies have realized thatthe money to be made in Linux is not from the initial buy-in, but fromwhat happens past that point.

“Revenue is going to come from service, support and deployment,” shesaid. “That’s why there’s so much happening with services.”

Swimming Upstream

Initial reaction from Salmon clients has been very positive, SimonBall, the company’s commercial director, said. He told LinuxInsider that hisphone has been “ringing off the hook” with clients asking aboutadditional services that might stem from the partnership.

“I think this gives us an opportunity to accelerate what we’ve alreadybeen doing, and put it on a bigger platform,” he said. “We think we’llbe pushing the boundaries of e-commerce.”

One major initiative for the two companies is to deliver significantidentity management capabilities, as well as leveraging Linux morefully.

Ball said: “Clients have asked us in the past about identity managementand how they can integrate Linux into their environments. We have theanswers to those questions now.”

Wait and See

Although Novell and Salmon are optimistic about the duo’s chances ofconquering the UK consulting market, DiDio expresses less confidence. She saidthat the acquisition looks good on paper, but it remains to be seenwhether it will bring success.

She noted that Novell’s acquisition of Cambridge Technology Partners hasnot “set the world on fire.”

“Any of these high-tech mergers and acquisitions are always suspect,”DiDio said. “The list of failures is longer than the list of successes.”

Also potentially problematic for Novell is its focus on slimming downSuSE Linux at a time when it is trying to establish more services in theUK. “Even companies like Microsoft and IBM have a hard time when theytry to pursue many different strategies at the same time,” DiDio said.

Yet another area to watch will be how Novell manages to build out itsservices while not sparking ire from IBM and Hewlett-Packard. Recently, Novell has been chummy with the two companies, but that could change if they startcompeting more heavily for the same customers.

“It could get dicey,” DiDio said, adding: “All these companies cooperate, but atsome points they’re in competition. Now they’re throwing Salmon into themix, to try and challenge these very established players. That raises alot of questions, but we’ll just have to see how it plays out.”

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