Dell Inc. has entered into an agreement with Microsoft and Waltham, Mass.-based commercial Linux distributor Novell Inc. to purchase SUSE Linux Enterprise Server certificates from Microsoft.
Under the agreement the Round Rock, Texas-based systems provider will also establish a services and marketing program to migrate existing Linux users who are not Dell Linux customers to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Dell will focus on three areas: interoperability workshops, migration proof of concepts and migration services.
These certificates entitle companies to run virtualised Windows on Suse Linux Enterprise Server, or virtualised SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on top of Windows. The certificates were part of an upfront payment to Novell of $240 million. Microsoft can use, resell, or distribute them over the term of the agreement. The certificates can then be used to redeem single or multi-year subscriptions for SLES support from Novell.
Dell already has a prexisting relationship with leading commercial Linux distributor Red Hat, but executives from Dell said in a release that this partnership was aimed at Linux customers who are not yet using Dell hardware.
The partnership marks yet another milestone for Microsoft and Novell, which had entered into an agreement in November in which they promised to jointly build, market and support new applications to improve interoperability; deliver virtualization capabilities; and make Microsoft and Novell products work better together.
Since that announcement, more than 40,000 new certificates for three-year priority support subscriptions to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server have been activated. Some of the larger customers to purchase these certificates include AIG Technologies Inc., Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse, HSBC and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Microsoft-Novell pact revisited
On the whole, Microsoft and Novell's partnership was met with intense criticism from the Linux community at large; whose members deplored it as detrimental to the Linux general public license. The Free Software Foundation, headed by Linux advocate and GPL inventor Richard Stallman, even included a special clause in version 3.0 of that license that would bar any future such agreements from taking place.
At a Linux Day event at the Novell headquarters in April, Paul Brown, Novell's Microsoft executive, said the two companies would still compete in the operating system space, and that the deal "did not damage Novell's relationship with the open source community."
During the same event, Ross Brunson, Novell's senior Linux specialist, detailed how the collaboration deal would benefit customers – especially in the area of virtualization. "We have been working on a mutual collaboration on software shims that translate between various hypervisor technologies," he said.