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Mike Marzolf

Does MSFT like NOVL? Linux? So why the love fest? Who is the enemy? IBM and ORCL (and everyone else including the EU). What are their weapons of choice? 1) Open Source, 2) Heterogeneous Virtualization, 3) Open Document Format.

Open Source in that via Linux, ORCL and IBM can sell data center stacks that are more secure, more stable and yes, cheaper than MSFT.

From the bottom, Linux is being met with heavier workloads than file/print, and that is good for ORCL and IBM (and others), and largely bad for MSFT and SUNW. From the top, 65% of mySQL installations are on Windows.

MSFT feeling the Squeeze?

Now toggle to Virtualization -- with MSFT vitualization, users can run multiple O/S on the same machine, provided all (host and guests) are Windows. Great if you are a pure Windows shop. If heterogeneous, you need to manage two farms, two management consoles, more servers, more HBAs, more power/heat/space, lower utilization.

With VMWare or XEN, you can have either O/S be either host or guest. This is a better solution for most customers. Now, ORCL and IBM (via Linux with XEN) would have the upper hand in a data center virtualization bake-off. So, MSFT/XEN/NOVL would prevent MSFT from being excluded from these opportunities.

Then there is Open Document Format (ODF). The EU is on a mission to require ODF as the standard format for document archival. If you save it, it needs to be in ODF. Why? So Joe Schmoe 70 years from now doesn’t need to buy $700 worth of MSFT software which may or may not be able to open a property abstract, or some other document. PDF works, but is only Open* (with-an-asterisk) per the EU. ODF interoperability through the NOVL/MSFT love fest will promote document interoperability with MSOffice, which may result in Save-As ODF within MSWord, and Save-As MSFT’s new Office XML format within Open Office, and potentially could get the EU off MSFT’s back. Time will tell.

So, by partnering with NOVL, MSFT can play the interoperability card with customers, avoid being left behind in heterogeneous virtualization, protect your database business, get the EU off their back, and at the same time hurt the #1 penguin flag carrier RHAT.


Why did Microsoft do this? Here is a diabolical thought. They want Novell Linux to be taken seriously in the enterprise, which it is not today. Microsoft hopes that this would lead to a replay of the 90's situation of various annoyingly incompatible Unix flavors, driving independent software vendors mad, leading them to embrace Windows to keep their sanity.

I believe they would fail (I am no fan of Red Hat in saying this). Novell is cynically manipulating Microsoft's need to fragment enterprise Linux and they are richer by $300+ million as a result. The Microsoft geniuses don't understand that Linux is already quite fragmented without their help, and that fragmentation is essentially irrelevant, because enterprises run Linux for either databases (which are easy to run on all the Linux flavors) or for Java/one of the scripting languages, which are also fairly easy to run. The key here is that none of these have GUI (only idiots will use Java for its GUI now!) and that is why they render the "Windows" game irrelevant.

Unix got killed not because of incompatible flavors (that played a small role) but because unix vendors were greedy pigs out to milk the enterprise. Open source solaris fixes that problem now, and that is why Sun is coming back.

Web services are another arena where fragmentation is utterly irrelevant (that should inspire the enterprise). Google and Yahoo (just to name the top two) run utterly incompatible systems internally. Yahoo runs BSD, and Google is Linux, and who cares?

To cut the long story short, the server OS is irrelevant now, which is what should scare the heck out of Microsoft. On the client side, the browser is the OS, and the rise of the web is giving the Mac a new lease on life.


Re: Mike's comment

While I found myself nodding away in agreement to your central points, my over-arching sentiment is still incredulity.

Is this Microsoft's first concession? Probably not, but this seems to be the highest profile concession to market (and legal) forces beyond their control.

What you're saying makes more sense than most of what I've read but fundamentally this heralds a shift from a natural monopoly to something in a more competitive arena. This is a company that is acknowledging Xen, ODF, and Open Source... they've come a long way in a short while.

Re: SidneyV. I don't think MSFT would be disappointed if their "endorsement" of NOVL slowed the adoption of Linux if even temporarily. But your main point that the server OS and client OS are waning in importance is spot on, IMHO. The question is one of timing.

Upon further review, I might have entitled this entry "Microsoft Under Siege!"

The comments to this entry are closed.


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