Novell Takes Aim at Microsoft Small Business Server

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Print this article Print


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Novell is expected to bring the first Linux-based small business server to market in late March.

SALT LAKE CITY—Novell CEO Jack Messman announced on Monday at Novell's annual tradeshow, BrainShare, the arrival of Novell Linux Small Business Suite 9.

In his morning keynote speech, Messman said that "NLSBS (Novell Linux Small Business Suite) is the first end-to-end, server-to-desktop Linux solution that offers a clear alternative for small businesses."

NLSBS is made up of SLES (SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9), Novell eDirectory8.7.3; Novell GroupWise 6.5; Novell iManager 2.0.2, Samba 3 and the Apache Web Server 2.0.

In addition, the package supports up to three servers and comes with five copies of NLD (Novell Linux Desktop), making it a true server-to-desktop small business package.

The new small business server package cannot support more then three servers, but it can support up to 100 desktops.

Click here to read more about the Novell Linux Desktop.

However, NLSBS can also work with Microsoft W2K and Server 2003 servers, according to Brad Young, Novell Inc.'s director of product management.

In addition, although the package comes with NLD, administrators can also support Windows clients with it as well.

The NLD desktops come with a ZENworks client for remote management, but the package does not include ZENworks.

Companies, however, can use ZENworks with NLSBS.

To read more about Novell's launch of its ZENworks 7 Linux Management software, click here.

Indeed, Young made a point of saying that NLSBS is completely compatible with any SLES application.

For example, if a small business decides that it needs to use JBoss Inc.'s Application Server, it can do so without needing to buy a special small business server edition.

Novell is also going out of its way to push NLSBS via its reseller and integrator partners. Many of its features were designed to make it more profitable and useful to the channel.

"Resellers can speed through installs," Young said. "In the past, it's been hard to put together small businesses server suites with Linux because the integrator had to custom fit the varying services."

"One reseller," said Troy Wilde, Novell's product manager for small business solutions, "once took eight hours just to do the initial configuration of a firewall for a small business customer.

"With NLSBS, the setup from start to finish would take about an hour."

That, in turn, gives the reseller more time to deliver any tuning or special applications that the customer might want.

"You can get through the install in a hurry so you can get on with your value-added services," said Young.

Next Page: Sales incentives for resellers.

For resellers, Novell is offering a package of training and sales incentives to make NLSBS an attractive alternative to Microsoft's Small Business Server or Red Hat RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) ES.

Young pointed out that the Linux-based Novell offering is both more secure and less expensive than the Microsoft package and is more channel-friendly and easier to set up than RHEL ES.

"The availability of Novell Linux Small Business Suite and the advantages of open-source software will give our customers even more options for improving their business," said Bill Long, owner of Integrated Network Systems, a New Orleans-based Novell channel partner.

Novell's horizontal partners also like this new package.

"The combination of HP [Hewlett-Packard Co.] solutions and the Novell Linux Small Business Suite will provide customers a secure, reliable networking solution that can improve employee productivity, collaboration and resource sharing," said Efrain Rovira, HP's worldwide director of Linux marketing, in a statement.

NLSBS will be available March 31 through Novell channel partners for a suggested $475 per five new user licenses or $252 per five users upgrading from qualifying Novell or competitive products.

In this case, a competitive product is any other server-based small business server package. So, for example, companies with peer-to-peer Windows network would not be eligible, but Microsoft Small Business Server customers would be.

The suite will include support for up to 100 licensed users and three servers, plus five free technical support incidents.

It will be available in English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor of eWEEK.com's Linux & Open Source Center and Ziff Davis Channel Zone. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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