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What you can do to ensure Novell’s future

Mar 07, 20063 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLinux

* Learn Linux, now

Am I mellowing in my old age? One reader recently wrote and said:

“Your latest is extremely good content, and quite a booster point for the lost, confused and despairing among us (including me) who want to bootstrap ourselves into competence as Linux administrators. This issue is also in stark contrast to much of your darker reflections on the future of Novell. The change of viewpoint is quite welcome, if only because many sysadmins – regardless of confidence in the future – are eager to jump on the learning curve ahead of the thundering herd.”

So perhaps it is time to ask if I’ve had a change of heart regarding the future of Novell. And the answer is – possibly.

I’m still not sure that Novell can come up with the right business model and with the right mix of products to keep the balance sheet in the black. But not just “in the black.” As a publicly traded company, Novell must also keep the investors happy about its profitability and future. And as the company discovered in the past, simply providing great products isn’t enough to keep you profitable, never mind a market leader.

On the other hand, we have to face up to the fact that NetWare has reached the end of its run as the premier network-server operating system. There won’t be any new versions of NetWare. But new applications and services will keep on coming, demanding changes in platforms to support their new features. They won’t run on NetWare so we’ll have to make the decision of which new application platforms to support.

Microsoft is offering a number of programs to entice you to move to a Windows server platform. Novell is countering that by offering to smooth the move to Linux. There are also those versions of Unix (Solaris, HP/UX, even Macintosh OS X) that would like your business. But the various flavors of Unix are, for the most part, wedded to specific hardware platforms and are best used for mounting services only available on that platform. That means you’ll need to choose either Windows or Linux for your long-term planning.

Novell has been known (at least among those of us who run its products) as having top-notch services, applications, and support. Windows has been known for, well, lack of security, lack of support and poor architecture.

So much as we regret the passing of NetWare – and it isn’t dead yet, not as long as there’s thousands and thousands of NetWare servers in production – we must look to the future and make the decisions that will help to shape our networks for many years to come.

So keep the NetWare servers running as long as you can – we’ll do what we can to help you accomplish that – but at the same time learn Linux. Some day you’ll be glad you did.