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Novell’s Linux transformation is upon us.

With the release of Open Enterprise Server, Novell has finally given its resellers the ultimate mix of NetWare and Linux they’ve been craving.

Ever since Novell bought SuSE Linux, its channel partners have been drooling about the idea of selling Linux to their current customers, and—dare they dream it—of winning back some of the customers they’ve lost to Microsoft over the years.

I can’t remember when Novell resellers were last so excited about a new release. When Novell decided to go with Linux it was like the sun came out on a gray, dreary day.

OES (Open Enterprise Server) gives the same rock-solid NetWare services, but gives customers a choice of either the NetWare 6.5 or the SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 operating system in the same package. This lets nervous buyers stick with the tried and true until they’re ready to move up to Linux.

At the same time, Novell Linux Desktop finally gives Novell resellers a viable option for desktop customers. Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t an XP killer, or a threat to W2K. For that matter, it’s not even an option for users who want a full-featured Linux desktop like Xandros Desktop 3.

But, if your customers can be happy with an operating system that lies between a thin client and a porky one, at a far more affordable price than the Microsoft solution, then Novell Linux Desktop is well worth your time.

Last, but in no way least, ZENworks 7 Linux Management, the latest version of Novell’s system management program, makes managing both Linux desktops and servers much easier. While earlier versions of ZENworks could work with Linux, this new edition offers far improved management tools.

Besides working with OES, Novell Linux Desktop, and SLES 9, ZENworks 7 can also be used to manage Red Hat Inc.’s RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux).

With this edition you get better imaging, configuration lockdown, better remote management, inventory and software-package management. This version also introduces
Policy-Driven Automation, which will make your administrators’ lives much easier.

Better still, the ZENworks 7 Suite just entered beta testing. Once both products make it out, probably by the beginning of the third quarter, you’ll have the management tools you need to snap the whip over Windows, NetWare and Linux systems from the desktop to the server.

Dare I say it? With all these interlocking products, you could finally walk into a customer’s office and offer them a complete product stack from the desktop to the server and the management tools to control the whole shebang.

Maybe Novell resellers will never see the heights they saw when Ray Noorda was at the helm, but, from where I sit, darn it, they are going to have their best shot in years.