Services and Expanding Borders, Sun, MS, Novell, Red Hat, Oracle, and the Others

A few short comments as I wake up to the morning’s catch. It sounds like Sun is about to make a move, which may effect the field in which the Novell/Microsoft situation took root. But first, a Forbes article frames the Microsoft/Novell agreement as a Novellian surrender. Is it? I think the telling part of why they’d frame it that way is the following point:

“Novell tried to put a brave face on things, even claiming that its chief executive, Ron Hovsepian, had initiated the talks with Microsoft. In fact, Microsoft’s lawyers have been quietly pressuring open-source companies like Novell for more than a year and warning their customers that they could be vulnerable to patent infringement claims because they’re using Linux.”

I like that quote because it feeds the suspicion I raised in my previous post on the topic, in which I said that I felt their constant affirming not to sue each other over patents, yet to pay weird licensing fees was some sort of red herring for something not being said publicly.

The Forbes article also notes

“But Novell also is admitting it cannot compete on its own against Red Hat. After two years of struggling, Novell holds only 20% market share of commercial Linux shipments; Red Hat commands virtually all of the rest.”

So this is curious motivation. Consider the 451 Group’s idea that Red Hat is becoming “The Poland of Software Vendors.” Is Red Hat sitting between Microsoft and Oracle initiatives, which may drive it into the ground (not that I’d characterize Poland that way–all analogies are only designed to go so far)? If Forbes’s stats indicate some of the motivation behind Novell’s deal with Microsoft, it will be interesting to see how many inroads it really will get from the Microsoft side.

The 451 article quotes Mark Shuttleworth from Canonical saying their strategy is unchanged. Canonical seems to have local partners spread-out in different geographies, which makes their service model feel like it may drive down a subtly different road than Red Hat’s or Novell’s. There is also the issue of the other companies competing in the enterprise service/support game. Mandriva is an example. Mandriva has a bevy of service offerings for enterprise customers, including migration, business performance analysis, and certain enterprise app consulting services with its partners (Compiere would be the example here). I’m not sure what this all should entail in terms of Novell and Red Hat and their gargantuan neighbours, except maybe it’s too soon to see anyone off via a nebulous nepenthe.

Back to Sun. CRN is reporting that Sun is likely to choose the GPL to open source Java. Although I wouldn’t think this is necessarily related to the Novell/Microsoft news, there is a lateral connection. If, as some people have theorized, the Microsoft/Novell deal will help increase .NET adoption via embracing Mono improvements and popularization, then Sun has more to worry about in terms of its Java agenda. Many have argued for a long time that Java’s lack of real FOSS status has prevented it from exploding in greater popularity. I suspect that may be at least partially true, so let’s see what comes to bear as it gets GPLed.

2 Replies to “Services and Expanding Borders, Sun, MS, Novell, Red Hat, Oracle, and the Others”

  1. Very interesting commentary. As the author of The 451 Group’s analysis calling Red Hat the ‘Poland of software vendors,’ let me be very clear that the reference was historical, not contemporary, and in no way intends to poke fun at the great nation of Poland – where I’ve lived and worked. Just thought I’d say that yes, I agree that analogies only go so far! Thanks for including our post in yours.

    1. Oops, sorry if I made the wrong impression, I didn’t think the 451 article was implying anything negative in respect to Poland, I meant my comment shouldn’t imply anything of that sort.

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