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Inside the Novell Linux Migration

Drinking Their Own Champagne

  • October 6, 2005
  • By Brian Proffitt

It is open knowledge that Novell, the company that roared into the open source arena by purchasing Ximian and SUSE in 2003, has been progressing towards migrating their own internal desktops and servers to a pure-Linux play. Or, at least, as pure Linux as possible.

Details of Novell's migration have been sketchy, but in a public presentation to attendees of Ohio LinuxFest, company specialists gave a rare look inside the ongoing move to Linux and laid out one possible framework for other companies to follow in their own migration plans.

Dan Rusek and Mark Richards, both category specialists for Novell, provided a tag-team presentation on how Novell's migration was planned and how it is being implemented now. Novell has chosen to tackle two facets of migration: one, the shifting of its Provo, Utah data center servers to more of a Linux environment and two, the migration of its employees' desktops at its Waltham, Massachusetts headquarters from Windows to Linux.

Besides the obvious desire to eat its own dog food (Novell, Rusek intoned, prefers to call it "drinking their own champagne"), the company also wanted to prove to itself and to others outside Novell that such a large enterprise could make the move to Linux. Rusek also explained to the crowd that by accomplishing this migration, they would be blazing a trail for others to follow. Those others are not just customers, either. As the migration proceeds, Novell's own engineers receive feedback from the project and learn how to make their offerings more migration friendly.

There were some more practical reasons for deciding to make the migration, Rusek added. Novell believes that by shifting to Linux, the company will enjoy a far smaller cost of ownership, much more security, and greater flexibility in how they can use their platforms.

Before they implemented their plans, Novell conducted their own TCO studies, and determined that the costs to install and administer Linux would be the same or slightly less than doing the same with UNIX or Windows. The same would hold true, Rusek explained, for hardware costs. In the areas of software support and virus remediation, however, Linux would be far cheaper than its counterparts.

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