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It seemed that everyone at CHIPS Computer Consulting in Lake Success, N.Y., had something to say about the news.

“I got an e-mail this morning saying that it was a sign that the apocalypse had come,” said Evan Leonard, the president of CHIPS.

What had got people talking was the news that on Nov. 2, Microsoft and Novell, after years of feuding, had finally come to an agreement to allow open-source Linux software to work with the Windows operating system.

“It was a little overdue,” said Leonard, whose company, a solution provider, integrates Microsoft’s products with network infrastructure, security and business intelligence.

By the morning of Nov. 3, VARs and system integrators like CHIPS were still trying to figure out what impact the agreement between Microsoft and Novell would have on the channel.

Click here to read more about the agreement between Novell and Microsoft.

While cautious, several VARs and analysts saw opportunity in the agreement for channel partners to offer more services and solutions to their users, especially enterprises and medium-size companies.

Leonard said that the agreement will help his company offer his customers more interoperability solutions in the data center.

“As a solution provider, this makes us much more valuable in the marketplace,” Leonard said.

Since more open-source applications are created for enterprises and medium-size companies, Leonard believes those two areas will see the most benefits, while it will take small and midsize businesses more time to catch up.

John Enck, research vice president for server strategies at Gartner, said it would take at least four months to determine how Microsoft and Novell will work together on such issues as interoperability.

Click here to read more about how the agreement between Microsoft and Novell will affect patent disputes.

The agreement is expected to be good for the channel because Microsoft will likely now relax some of the pressure on its VARs and system integrators to install Windows over Novell’s SuSE Linux operating system.

“It creates more of a level playing field,” Enck said. “It’s very helpful for the channel and its gives [partners] the ability to offer a broader range of services.”

Ken Mclaurin, the senior product marketing manager for open source and virtualization for Akibia of Westboro, Mass., said he sees benefits for system integrators like his company in the area of virtualization.

Specifically, the agreement will make Xen virtualization software a viable alternative to VMware. The agreement now gives a “Microsoft seal of approval” to a number of Linux-based solutions, like Xen.

Click here for exclusive channel research from Amazon Consulting.

In addition, the agreement will allow a much easier way for companies like Akibia, which uses both Microsoft and Novell, to manage and offer services for companies that have mixed operating system environments in the data center.

“This is a way for our customers to deploy virtualization solutions in a much more cost-effective manner,” Mclaurin said.