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Novell Inc.’s planned $210 million acquisition of SuSE Linux AG raises many questions, especially about the future of the network services company’s NetWare operating system.

Novell CEO and Chairman Jack Messman maintains that the Provo, Utah, company has no plans to phase out NetWare as an operating system, saying that it is simply adding Linux to the mix.

But some customers and resellers are not convinced. John Kretz, president of Enlightened Point Consulting Group LLC, in Phoenix, said he expects the next version of NetWare to be the last true release.

“If Linux is Novell’s future, then it’s time to pull the life-support plug on NetWare and start dedicating serious resources to SuSE,” Kretz said. “Everyone knows NetWare has already become irrelevant. It’s really sad, too, since the core NetWare technology is still today far, far better than anything Microsoft [Corp.] has ever sold.”

But Donald Barber, a senior technical support specialist with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Enterprise IT Delivery group, believes differently, saying SuSE does not point to the end of the road for NetWare but rather adds an option for customers.

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