This afternoon [Nov 2] was the first I learned about what I see as a massive announcement: Microsoft agrees to collaborate with Novell to make their software interoperate with Linux.
Beg your pardon? Novell and Microsoft sharing the love? Despite the eerie feeling that something has gone horribly wrong with the space-time continuum, this makes a lot of sense if you know Ron Hovsepian at all. The first time I ever heard Ron Hovsepian speak, he was on stage before the entire North American sales force. He was brand new to Novell. I expected the usual, “I did this and I did that” kind of talk as his introduction. Instead, Ron told a story about the first customer he ever worked with in his life, and that he could still call on that customer today. Then he cited the phone number from memory. Ron’s point? It’s not about him, or anyone else in that room. It’s about serving our customers. (I liked him immediately.)
Since his time at Novell, Ron has been working to change Novell’s systems and methods to be about the customers. Throughout his steady rise to become Novell’s chief executive, that’s been his steady campaign. So it was no surprise to me when, during the press conference web cast, Ron responded to a question about how this big announcement came about by saying that he started it back in April. He called a former customer of his, now working in a senior role at Microsoft, and asked him to help him get the two companies to set aside all the old rivalries (20 years!) and do what is right for our mutual customers.
Yes, it’s a huge day for Novell, for SUSE Linux, and for open source software. And, for Microsoft. But moreso for the businesses who simply want Linux/OSS and Windows to work well together.
Expect more from me on what this is all about from the technology and community side–there is a lot more to discuss. But for now, I use this post to fulfill a promise made so long ago that it’s almost forgotten: the much-delayed post about Ron Hovsepian becoming Novell’s new CEO.