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Has Linux truly arrived? Is it a major factor in enterprise IT today? The answer is simply and unequivocally "yes." Consider the following data points.

From its modest beginnings in 1991 when Linus Torvalds released the first version of the kernel, Linux has become the world's fastest growing operating system. According to Gartner Dataquest, Linux shipments will increase from 1.4 million units in 2005 to 2.4 million in 2010, a compound annual growth rate of 11.7 percent. In addition, Linux-based mission-critical IT data center deployments will drive more than US$2.2 billion of the US$11 billion in total server shipment revenue by 2009. (Gartner Data Center Conference 2006 presentation: Enterprise Linux: Has It Truly Arrived.)

Among forward-thinking IT executives, the debate about the viability and effectiveness of Linux is over. They've already deployed Linux successfully in their corporate data centers to run critical workloads. It has proven to be a reliable, stable and secure operating system that's easy to deploy, customize and manage. Bolstered by that success, many IT executives are now considering where to go next with Linux. They know that Linux can deliver big price/performance increases and significant competitive advantages, and they want to generate those results in more areas of their IT operations.

But where and how should they expand the Linux footprint within their enterprises? What should IT leaders be thinking about as they consider potential new deployments? The next chapters of the Linux story are only now being written, and there are sure to be some surprising twists and turns ahead. But for the foreseeable future, Linux use will clearly continue to grow, and part of that growth will come from deployments in new areas of enterprise IT.

Given where Linux is today and its building market momentum, it's a good time for IT leaders to pause and think about where to take Linux next and how to ensure success. To that end, we offer the following suggestions for some things IT leaders should be thinking about as they prepare to deploy Linux more broadly throughout their organizations.

> Partner With a Leader
Betting even a small part of your organization's success on a small or struggling vendor is always a risky proposition. A wiser choice is to go with a vendor that has experience and a proven track record of success.

Novell is a clear leader in the Linux market. Our SUSE Linux Enterprise platform is the only Linux distribution available today that offers true enterprise-class functionality from desktop-to-data center. That platform includes:

  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server—a reliable, secure, scalable and high-performance server designed to handle a variety of compute-intensive tasks, including mission-critical workloads in the data center.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop—the market's only enterprise-quality Linux desktop. With award-winning usability and bundled with key productivity applications, it is ready now for routine business use. It is deployable as a general-purpose desktop or easily tailored for use in thin- or thick-client configurations.

Several other unique characteristics set the SUSE Linux Enterprise platform apart from its competition. First, the platform is backed by the world-class Novell technical support organization. A key consideration when adopting any open source technology is support quality. Our experienced technical support team stands ready to offer whatever support customers may need, 24x7 worldwide.

Another key difference, made possible through our ground-breaking collaboration with Microsoft, is the unmatched interoperability SUSE Linux Enterprise offers with various Windows-based technologies. That, along with a set of tightly integrated management tools, simplify and streamline the management of heterogeneous IT environments.

By choosing to align with a leader like Novell and its unparalleled SUSE Linux Enterprise platform, customers can be sure that they will have the advanced technology and high-quality support they'll need to quickly improve IT operations while reducing cost, complexity and risk.

> Power More Servers and Workloads
In organizations of all types and sizes, there is constant pressure to improve operations while controlling costs. Given the clear price/performance advantages offered by Linux, more and more businesses are considering it for high-performance tasks and for mission-critical business applications from vendors such as Oracle and SAP.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 illustrates why IT experts are looking to Linux solutions to solve some of their biggest operational challenges. It is a massively scalable (using either several commodity server platforms or a single, large symmetric multiprocessing server) and high-availability server solution. With SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, enterprises can easily, safely and securely migrate more of their complex, line-of business applications over to Linux and begin to reap the benefits.

> Go Virtual with Linux
Many enterprises are looking to virtualization technology to solve problems and generate better results and greater value for their IT investments. Virtualization is the decoupling of software from hardware so that disparate software systems and applications can reside and run isolated virtual servers on the same physical hardware. It enables enterprises to better align their IT resources with their business goals through flexible and dynamic provisioning of critical workloads. Some of the specific benefits of virtualization include:

  • lower hardware costs by decreasing the number of required servers
  • lower infrastructure costs such as power, cooling and space through server consolidation
  • increased server utilization by allowing multiple applications to coexist on one server
  • improved business continuity and system uptime by moving workloads onto virtual machines as needed and without interruption improved response times by leveraging excess data center capacity and by balancing computing loads across data center resources at peak times.

SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 was the first Linux distribution to ship with fully integrated virtualization capabilities. With Xen hypervisor technology, you can create virtualized Linux machines on commodity hardware, creating new levels of flexibility and agility in your environments at a lower total cost of ownership.

> Linux and Windows Interoperability
A key consideration for IT leaders intending to broaden the Linux footprint within their organizations is ensuring interoperability with their other strategic IT platform, namely Microsoft Windows. IT managers must avoid creating an environment that encompasses both platforms but lacks interoperability between the two. By choosing a Linux solution that offers outstanding interoperability with Windows-based technologies, IT managers will avoid increasing their management challenges.

Novell is uniquely positioned to deliver more thorough Linux- Windows interoperability than any other Linux provider today. As part of our partnership with Microsoft, we will be introducing new technology over the coming year that improves interoperability in four areas:

  • bidirectional virtualization
  • standards-based systems management
  • directory and identity federation
  • document format compatibility

This technical collaboration will help you reduce costs in your data centers, gain new levels of flexibility and streamline operations.

> Management of Heterogeneous
Virtual and Physical Assets

With the ability to create more types of virtualized servers added to the plethora of physical server platforms now deployed in data centers, you, as IT managers, might be faced with more complicated management issues for your server environments. Your goal should be to find ways to simplify and automate physical and virtual machine management. Without automated management amid this complexity, your IT operations could quickly run amok.

With more than 20 years of experience in developing enterprise infrastructure software, Novell knows how to help you eliminate IT chaos. We have worked closely with various standards bodies and the open source community, and have focused significant development efforts on ways to modularize, standardize, commoditize and virtualize the IT environment. The result is a sophisticated set of systems management solutions that let you automate the administration and management of virtual and physical machines, operating systems, devices, applications and other IT resources.

Our automated data center solutions enable you to confidently employ virtualization technologies in your IT operations. Unlike most data center management offerings, the Novell solutions manage both the physical and the virtual components. As a result, Novell allows you to plan and manage your IT resources as a strategic whole, instead of isolated components. Full life cycle management of both the physical and virtual world together also reduces environment complexity, staff training and provides a unified method of management.

The "brain" of these solutions is the Novell ZENworks Orchestrator. This key component interacts with configuration and storage resource management servers to manage physical compute and storage resources and the relationships between them. ZENworks Orchestrator, in concert with the ZENworks Virtual Machine Management tool, works on Linux, Unix, Windows and Mac machines, and manages virtual resources, controlling the entire life cycle of each virtual machine.

With these advanced solutions from Novell, you can implement automated policies that manage IT resources to meet the business needs of your organizations. This way, resources that would otherwise stand idle or underutilized are redirected to meet new demands. These critical IT activities include configuration management, job scheduling dynamic provisioning and resource allocation. By enabling this increased automation, Novell data center solutions give IT managers fast and effective ways to achieve tremendous improvements in their organizations' IT effectiveness.

> Conclusion
It's time to build on the success you've had with Linux in your data center. It's also a great time to partner with Novell and use our SUSE Linux Enterprise platform to drive IT improvements while also lowering cost, complexity and risk. Our SUSE Linux Enterprise platform, along with the other open source and open standards-based solutions from Novell, give you a clear, safe and strong path to IT improvements and competitive advantage. So far, you might have only achieved a fraction of the potential benefits that Linux can bring to your organization. But with the courage of your convictions, and a great partner such as Novell at your side, you can make effective, strategic changes that will align your IT assets more closely with your organization's goals. The results will be better IT performance, better bottom-line results and competitors further back in your rear-view mirror.

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