Novell Still Needs to Open Wider
Novell has made yet another push into the small business market with a server and desktop suite. It’s a worthwhile effort, but The VAR Guy thinks Novell will need to bundle in more third-party solutions for the suite to gain traction for customers.
To Novell’s credit, the suite includes a range of software — SUSE Linux Enterprise; GroupWise; Open Enterprise Server for storage, print and management services; SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for running applications; SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop from Novell for desktop productivity; and the Novell edition of OpenOffice.org for Windows and Linux. The suite supports up to five servers and 200 users.
Still, the branding and partner components could be stronger. Too often, vendors try to force-fit “enterprise” products into small businesses. Novell’s decision to offer so many “Enterprise” branded products in a small business suite could leave partners and customers wondering if the suite really has been custom designed for small business owners.
Further complicating matters, some of Novell’s server products aren’t exactly setting the world on fire these days. It’s important for Novell to continue promoting GroupWise — but the open source crowd has warmed up to email alternatives like Zimbra (now owned by Yahoo!) or Open Xchange. And there’s growing demand for the MySQL database and SugarCRM platforms. Strengthen your partnerships, Novell, and bundle some leading third-party applications with your suite.
Novell has taken some key steps in that direction. The suite includes some niche third-party solutions (Amanda for backup and archiving, the ClamAV anti-virus toolkit, HylaFAX fax server, iptables for firewall, MailScanner for spam filtering, the OpenVPN virtual private network and TightVNC for remote control of network clients).
Solid moves. But Novell’s biggest challenge — in small business and in the enterprise — is promoting third-party application integration. Bundling popular open source applications like Zimbra with the small business suite would go a long way toward changing that perception.