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Novell has forced longtime users to make a tough choice

Jan 05, 20063 mins
Enterprise Applications

* NetWare users might follow the path to OES - or they might not

As we saw in the last newsletter, although many readers appear to be running Open Enterprise Server on the NetWare kernel – or its equivalent, NetWare 6.5 SP4a – a tiny handful are running on the Linux kernel and a few more have vague plans to move to the Linux kernel in the course of the next year or so.

Familiarity is probably the biggest factor holding back organizations from changing to the SuSE Linux kernel. IT departments that have run NetWare for many years are reluctant to move to a platform they really aren’t familiar with. There’s some movement to Linux where the managers can see a clear advantage, such as running Internet services – Web servers, DNS servers, and the like. Linux does have a decided advantage over NetWare in running these Unix-legacy services.

So none of that is really troubling. After all, when Microsoft introduced Windows 2000 Server five years ago there was a great reluctance for IT managers to upgrade from Windows NT because the “newfangled” Active Directory was new, strange and unfriendly. It took a number of years and a great deal of effort to convince people to step up to Directory-enabled Windows. It was (for those who remember it) very reminiscent of the introduction of NetWare 4 and NetWare Directory Services (NDS, now called eDirectory).

But at least those NT administrators could stay with Windows, albeit a new and different Windows. Novell needs you to move from NetWare to an entirely new operating system.

As one reader put it: “Before we switch over to Linux, we will have to evaluate whether it makes sense to do that or to simply switch over to” Windows servers.

And another adds: “There will be lots of training too before we can convert completely to Linux, if we ever do, and we need to get our learning curve going for Linux. Twenty years of NetWare experience makes NetWare an easy install and tweak. We need to get that way with Linux because it appears that NetWare is a dead horse.”

While a third chimed in with: “It is frustrating, to say the least, to see Novell gleefully decide that we (others with my experience) all need to embrace an OS that we have no familiarity with and that few of our software vendors support. If Novell were willing to make an initial investment in helping us retrain (for free, or at least at a greatly reduced price), it would make it easier for us to justify staying with Novell products.”

What they are all implying or saying outright is that it appears to them to be easier and cheaper to migrate from NetWare to Windows servers than it does to migrate to Linux servers. It isn’t only the cost of the software which determines total cost of ownership.

Just some food for thought for Jack Messman and the gang in Waltham.