Novell Linux Certificates

One of the parts of the Novell/Microsoft deal that hasn't been getting much press is the 70,000 SLES certificates that Microsoft purchased for distribution. I was a bit surprised to see that 16,000 of them have already been doled out. Three major companies have even gone on the record about their involvement: AIG, Credit Suisse, and Deutsche Bank. From the article:
Two banks and an insurance company have accepted Microsoft's offer of technical support for Novell Inc.'s Suse Enterprise Linux.
One of the three, Credit Suisse Group, does not yet use Suse Linux, spokeswomen for the two software vendors said.
As part of its marketing support for Suse Linux, Microsoft agreed to distribute “subscription certificates,” each one entitling customers to technical support from Novell for a server running Suse Enterprise Linux. Microsoft intends to distribute around 70,000 of the certificates a year for the next five years. Customers have already activated 16,000 of the certificates in the seven weeks they have been offered, Microsoft said.
The companies declined to put a price on the certificates, but Microsoft's general manager for customer advocacy and licensing, Susan Hauser, warned: “Don't assume that we're giving them away.”

It still strikes me as odd to have your main competitor sell your product, especially when that competitor is Microsoft. There's some interesting discussion about this going on at Matt Asay's blog. A snippet:
Again, one problem I have with this announcement is that each of these companies was already using both company's products prior to this announcement and the pact. They're not net new customers of either Microsoft or Novell, making the announcement as such somewhat deceptive. Fine. It's marketing.
But it also overlooks the fact that some – perhaps all? – of these companies are also heavy Red Hat users. Hence, the real question whether this early adopter program with Novell/Microsoft will actually pull them away from Red Hat. Early signs are a clear “No,” even despite the dramatically lower prices Novell is offering for its pilot program. It's tough to beat free. ;-)
All that said, I still think it's good that customers are buying into the interoperability story. This part of the Microsoft/Novell deal is useful and important. I buy it.

It's unclear in the announcement whether the patent bit of the agreement had anything to do with any of the companies decisions. That would be an interesting question to get the answer to, although I'm not going to hold my breath. This story continues to get more interesting from my perspective. And I said I wouldn't blog about it any more ;)
–jeremy
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