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Bottom Line - The Ximian Play
Nov/Dec 2003    by eric harper

 

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The Ximian acquisition strengthens the Novell one Net strategy by bringing Linux expertise and leadership to Novell solutions.

In August of this year, Novell announced that it was acquiring Ximian, a provider of Linux management, desktop productivity and Windows interoperability solutions for enterprise customers. Some Novell users may not have been familiar with the small company before the announcement. And if they were, they may have wondered what Novell plans were for the company's products, people and the open source initiatives it helped to launch, such as GNOME and Mono.

Novell and Ximian (now the Novell Ximian Group) actually have a lot in common—with both similar company philosophies and product strategies. So if you're still wondering what Ximian is and how it fits into the Novell picture, read on and you'll see why this move makes sense for Novell and its customers.

Novell cross-platform strategy
By way of introduction, Ximian is a leading provider of desktop and server solutions for the Linux platform. Ximian has an installed base of more than one and a half million users, including companies such as Cisco, Amerada Hess, Motorola and Lycos. Ximian shares common strategic partners with Novell such as IBM Global Services and SuSE. It has a great team of people who are recognized leaders in the Linux community such as Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman, its founders.

The acquisition of Ximian boosts the Novell cross-platform strategy and demonstrates a commitment to accelerate Novell's leadership as an enterprise Linux-solutions company and contributor to the open source community.

"Our breakthrough management and desktop products strongly complement Novell applications on Linux and Novell Nterprise Linux Services."

- David Patrick,
General Manager,
Novell Ximian Group

Novell launched its cross-platform strategy in 1999 when it made eDirectory available on platforms other than NetWare. In April of this year, Novell furthered this strategy when it announced plans to deliver all the network services it currently provides on NetWare to both the Linux and NetWare kernels. And just recently, Novell introduced key open source technologies in the latest version of NetWare (version 6.5), including MySQL, Apache, Tomcat and others.

In June, Novell introduced Nterprise Linux Services, an initiative that will give customers file, print, messaging, directory and management services in an integrated package. This offering is a crucial component of the one Net promise to deliver a world without information boundaries. Novell announced that it will provide this powerful set of enterprise services, previously found only on Netware, for the leading Linux distributions, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux.

With the acquisition of Ximian, Novell takes a major step in strengthening its crossplatform strategy. This move will support the open source community and reduce the barriers to Linux adoption in the enterprise by providing low-cost, high-performance, innovative Linux applications.

Ximian plays a significant leadership role in the broader open source community and helps drive several key open source projects. The founders of Ximian, Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman, who are wellknown open source visionaries, helped found the GNOME and Mono projects, both initiatives they will continue to lead at Novell. Novell resources will help accelerate progress in these projects.

With Ximian, Novell gets market-leading products as well as visionary leaders and engineers that are pioneers in the open source community. It gains access to, and will continue to actively support key Ximian-sponsored open source initiatives such as GNOME and Mono. (See Ximian Products Mesh Well with Novell Solutions.)

Engaging the open source community is just one of the benefits of this acquisition. Part of the Novell mission is to give customers the flexibility and reliability they require without abandoning existing technology investments.

For years Novell has been providing real solutions that work in a cross-platform environment. These solutions provide alternatives for companies that don't want to rip and replace their current technical infrastructure. Novell gives customers the choice to run the systems and platforms that make the most sense for them and their businesses.

Now, many Novell customers are interested in adopting Linux solutions. Ximian puts Novell in a great position to ensure the success of this endeavor. Novell will continue to provide cross-platform alternatives, making sure that new offerings will work together with existing investments in the simplest way possible.

Ximian products mesh well with Novell solutions
Many Ximian products, which support leading Linux distributions including Red Hat and SuSE, line up very closely with existing Novell solutions. (See Figure 1.) They are designed to enable enterprise customers to adopt, integrate and manage Linux servers and desktops, especially within mixed Windows environments. The integration of technologies will create new developments that should excite both Novell and Ximian customers.

Ximian Red Carpet is the de facto standard for updating software across leading Linux distributions. The Red Carpet Enterprise solution provides corporate customers with centralized management of Linux servers and desktops. Software management and distribution capabilities fit together with Novell resource management solutions, which include the ZENworks products. Integrating and managing Linux in a mixed network environment is a critical challenge to Linux adoption, and Novell and Ximian now have the most compelling management offering available.

Ximian Desktop 2, based on the open source GNOME project, provides complete desktop productivity for Linux users. It features a tightly integrated suite of applications that delivers robust support for Windows file formats, networks and standards. Ximian Desktop 2 includes the OpenOffice suite for MS Office-compatible documents and the Galeon Web browser. It also includes built-in software updating with Red Carpet and the Ximian Evolution e-mail and information management application.

Award-winning Ximian Evolution is the premier groupware client for Linux, and can be used today as an e-mail client with Novell GroupWise and NetMail technologies. Ximian Evolution integrates e-mail, calendaring, contact management and task lists in one easy-to-use application. It provides enterprises with connectivity to existing common corporate applications, such as Microsoft Exchange, and makes it easier to deploy mixed Linux and Windows environments.

Figure 1

Click for large view

Mono is an open source community initiative spearheaded by Ximian to provide the Microsoft.NET development framework on Linux and UNIX, enabling developers to build applications on Windows and deploy on Linux. The combination of Mono and Novell exteNd will provide the most comprehensive and broadest Web services environment on the market. Novell will continue the Mono project and integrate the components that make sense for exteNd.

Novell is currently working to integrate these solutions, and you'll begin to see the fruits of those efforts early next year. It's all about giving customers choice—letting them run the systems and platforms they want with the tools to manage and secure their environments and business relationships.

The common vision of Novell and Ximian
The main objective of Novell with this acquisition is to reduce impediments to Linux deployment in the enterprise, and open source is a great way to develop software that is reliable, stable and secure. Novell and Ximian have a shared commitment to reduce the barriers of Linux adoption in the enterprise. Both are committed to lowering enterprise TCO through Linux management, desktop productivity and cross-platform interoperability.

Novell has made it perfectly clear that it is not abandoning NetWare, just adding Linux services to enhance the one Net vision: a world without information boundaries where the right people are connected with the right information at the right time to make the right decisions.

One of the key challenges of the open source movement has been to get a critical mass of resources and customer adoption of open source solutions. This means driving open source from the periphery to the center of enterprise deployments. Novell offers the infrastructure, channels and customer audiences to help Ximian build momentum.

Novell customers gain compelling new options for introducing and integrating Linux into their environments, whether at the server or desktop level. Customers have several reasons for wanting to deploy Linux—low costs, customization opportunities and a variety of other factors. But they are concerned about support, integration and management challenges.

Novell provides enterprise-class support, services and tools to join management of the network across platforms, including Linux. Novell Ngage consulting solutions combine the experience and knowledge of experts around the world to make sure that every Novell Linux solution is fully supported and capable of delivering the highest return on investment.

The combination of Novell and Ximian is going to help reduce the barriers of Linux adoption in the enterprise. Customers will have the enterprise-class network management tools, interoperability and world-class support they expect from an experienced enterprise software company like Novell.

Conclusion
After evaluating the synergies, it's easy to see why Novell decided to acquire Ximian. Long before the convergence, the two companies had much in common: complementary products, a commitment to open source and cross-platform integration, and a vision for enterprise Linux adoption all over the world.

For more information about Novell on Linux www.novell.com/linux

Like any good union, the elements are much better combined than they are apart. Even with all they have in common, both companies bring unique benefits. Ximian provides unparalleled Linux expertise, products and leadership in the open source community; Novell provides solutions, resources and support infrastructure to round out the offering.

Novell began its cross-platform strategy four years ago, and the push for open source and Linux support began soon after. This acquisition will help Novell interact more effectively with the open source community and become a more constructive contributor.

It all comes down to fulfilling the one Net vision: helping to reduce the barriers to information to help people make the right decisions. Novell will continue to support and enhance NetWare and its services, while ensuring that its NetWare and Linux offerings can easily co-exist in customer environments.

Whatever the needs of Novell customers, they will have the choice and flexibility to run their services on whatever platform they choose. If they choose Linux, Novell and Ximian will help them get there.



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