The community could very well be upset but from the look of things, Mr. Allison may have been the only one leaving Novell behind. Rather, in the short term, the very opposite has happened. Novell’s Linux business skyrocketed last quarter and in fact is the only part of their business that appears to be doing well.
The company reported last week that revenue from Linux Platform Products was up 46% from the same quarter last year to $15M and Linux-related invoicing was up a staggering 659% to $91M.
While you can’t draw a straight line from these increases to the deal with Microsoft, you have to imagine it had some impact. And certainly the backlash predicted to take it’s pound of flesh from the Linux vendor never materialized. Why not? Because the agreement with MS didn’t impact the quality of an already popular Linux distribution and paying customers saw some value in tight ties with the largest software company in the world. Fear almost certainly didn’t drive any new sales for Novell. When’s the last time you cut a check to SCO?
Making a deal with MS was a risky proposition for Novell — and they’re still working through the kinks. But Novell is a company willing to take chances. Had Novell not taken the chance on buying SUSE Linux in 2003, they and their NetWare product suite would likely have been completely marginalized by now. The deal with Microsoft may just be another one of those necessary risks they had to take.
Throughout the company’s history Novell has had to take big risks reinventing themselves — especially when Microsoft nearly put them out of business in the 90s. That willingness to take chances is a good thing. Because for a company that lost $20M last quarter overall, it’s going to take more than Microsoft distributing Linux support coupons to completely turn things around.
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