February 16, 2019

Inside the Novell Linux Migration - page 5

Drinking Their Own Champagne

  • October 6, 2005
  • By Brian Proffitt

To make the transition to Linux, Richards emphasized repeatedly that the goal of such a migration was not to force people to make the move to Linux from Windows just for Linux's sake.

"You can't shoehorn this in," he told the audience, "Is Linux a 100% replacement for Windows? It will be, but not yet."

Making the transition easier was giving users a choice on how much control they had in the actual migration. Novell gave their users four paths to migration options: do it yourself, where users would implement Linux with guided instructions if they needed them; work with me, an option that would have an IT staffer standing next to the user as they installed the software; install it for me, which would put the installation in the IT worker's hands; and finally an installfest, where whole groups of workers would bring their machines to a central meeting place and install Linux (with food and beverages provided, of course).

Novell's goals for this part of migration are being met. By October 31, 2004, 50% of Novell employees were to be using Novell Linux Desktop at the very least on a dual-boot system. By October 31 of this year, the goal is 80% of Novell employees on single-boot Linux systems. Richards told the crowd that they were well on their way towards this upcoming goal. However, according to Richards own figures, as of September 30, 2153 of 5342 employees are on single-boot Linux systems, which is only 40 percent.

Still, Novell remains committed to making this migration work. The hard part, Richards explained, was yet to come. The last 20 percent of desktop users would be the hardest to migrate, as they represent users with a serious business process investment in Windows. Novell, being such a large enterprise customer itself, has been able to leverage its size to get independent software vendors to port their applications to Linux, but it would still take some time.

But besides the obstacles, the costs are going to be worth it. Rusek demonstrated that currently it costs $528.02 for a combined Windows XP/Office license. Novell's own Linux Desktop costs $45.70 annually, and includes upgrades. Even though the Novell costs are annual, Rusek pointed out the obvious: in terms of licensing costs, it would take 11.5 years for Novell's costs to build up to what Windows XP/Office costs now and upgrades would be included in the Novell license structure--not Microsoft's.

Both Rusek and Richards were quick to point out that what worked for Novell is not a given to work in another corporate migration. Their company's experiences were to be taken as guidelines only. But, in general, the duo emphasized from general tips that most organizations could follow:

  • Find advocates for Linux and open source in your company.
  • Have the leadership of your company be passionate about any migration.
  • Set clear objectives and communicate them.
  • Do your homework on applications.
  • Have an OpenOffice.org strategy
  • Don't try to shoehorn Linux in at the cost of losing productivity

Finally, they explained, companies should see some immediate savings as Windows licenses are retired and as expensive UNIX hardware is phased out.

As Novell proceeds on their migration path, they will have gained quite a bit of experience in making Linux transitions. Experience that should only benefit their customers and anyone else looking to make a move to Linux.

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