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Who is Messman trying to convince?

Apr 08, 20043 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLinux

* Messman's Linux messages

Is it just me, or do others think Jack Messman is trying to convince himself that the move to Linux is a good idea? Just look at some of the things he said at BrainShare:

* “2004 will be the year that Linux goes mainstream on enterprise servers.”

* “Soon after it will flow into business users’ desktops.”

* “Government and retail sectors will pioneer the deployment of Linux.’

* “Enterprises could make savings of up to 8% by switching to Linux servers and desktops.”

He’s certainly trying to convince someone. I mean Linux has been “mainstream” on enterprise servers for a couple of years, ever since IBM started shipping eServers with Linux. You can’t get more mainstream than IBM when it comes to the enterprise.

People have been predicting a rush to Linux on the desktop for years, also, but Novell now has a vested interest (ever since it bought Ximian) in making this a self-fulfilling prophecy. The “80% savings,” by the way, is when you switch from Unix to Linux. But most of that saving is in hardware. Switching from Windows servers to Linux offers less in the way of savings – the hardware doesn’t need to change, but the in-house expertise certainly needs to.

Maybe it’s just the enthusiasm of the recent convert, after all it was just a year ago that Messman referred to Linux as an “immature operating system.”

Whatever the cause of his new attitude, though, the tone and the what-else-can-I-call-it except sheer arrogance of his recent pronouncements could turn off as many people as it turns on. While Novell was able to convince Linus Torvalds to make a BrainShare appearance (and I’m sure the fact that Torvalds’ paycheck comes from an organization that just received a big infusion of money from Novell played no part in his appearance), he very carefully did not endorse or recommend any of the Novell products, services or statements. He simply reiterated what he’s always said; Linux is a pretty good operating system.

The announcements of partnerships with IBM and HP where Novell’s SuSE Linux will ship on their respective servers was interesting, and caught Wall Street’s attention, but there was little said about revenue from the deals. Novell is also notorious for “paper partnership” announcements that barely survive the press conference at which they’re released. Anyone else remember IBM’s “Blue NetWare”?

This could be a masterstroke on Messman’s part. I did, after all, anoint him as the Networking MVP for 2003 because of the Linux hype ( Enthusiasm is a good thing, but if you can’t back it up with solid products, solid sales numbers and profits and solid response from both users and investors then it only amounts to one more roller coaster ride for the NetWare faithful. And we’re getting too old (and too jaded) to take that ride too many more times.