One year after signing a landmark agreement to build a bridge between open source and proprietary software, Novell and Microsoft Corp. today unveiled continued strong momentum behind the agreement.
Having exceeded their original business targets, the companies continue to see strong demand for interoperability and intellectual property (IP) peace of mind. In addition, Novell and Microsoft announced an expansion of their technical collaboration to create a cross-platform accessibility model that links together the existing Windows and Linux* frameworks used to build assistive technology products that enable people with disabilities to interact with computers.
"This agreement has been about the customer since day one," said Jeff Jaffe, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Novell. "Customers told us they wanted Linux and Windows to work better together so they could focus on their businesses. By taking a leading position in delivering interoperability with Microsoft, Novell is becoming the preferred Linux choice for the integrated enterprise, a fact borne out by the significant sales increase we've seen over the past year."
"As we mark the one-year anniversary of our relationship, we are very pleased with the customer support we have received for a solution that provides cross-platform interoperability," said Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Server and Tools Business Group at Microsoft. "Moreover, the Novell and Microsoft relationship has opened doors to more cross-platform collaboration in areas such as accessibility, which are of great importance to customers worldwide. We are eager to work with Novell to address this important issue and help a wider population of people with disabilities work with computers."
One-Year Momentum and Results
Today Novell and Microsoft announced that 30 new customers, including Costco Wholesale Corp., Southwest Airlines Co. and the City of Los Angeles, will receive from Microsoft certificates for three-year priority support subscriptions for SUSE(R) Linux Enterprise Server from Novell(R). These organizations join the ranks of all other Microsoft and Novell customers that are benefiting from the collaboration between the two companies to enable IT interoperability and IP peace of mind in mixed-source environments.
The new customers announced today are global and local, private and public, and represent a wide range of geographies and industries that include the financial, healthcare, retail and technology sectors. Examples are Zabka Polska S.A., one of the largest retail chains in Poland, marking the first agreement in that country, and CHRISTUS Health, a large U.S.-based healthcare provider.
The full list is as follows: Abraxas Informatik AG; ADIF; AFG IT Consulting; Arsys Internet S.L.; Baker Hughes; BATS Trading Inc.; State of California Department of Technology Services; Cash Converters International Ltd.; CHRISTUS Health; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; City of Los Angeles; CompuCom Systems Inc.; Conductor Tecnologia S.A.; Costco Wholesale Corp.; Flagstar Bank; iLoop Mobile Inc.; Leicester City Council; Kent County, Mich.; Mercury Insurance; Pioneer Corp.; Riverside County, Calif.; South Carolina Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole Services; Southwest Airlines Co.; Swiss Post; Synovus Financial Corp.; TDC Hosting; T-Systems Enterprise Services GmbH; Washington State Department of Information Services; Westmont College; and Zabka Polska S.A.
"The Novell and Microsoft agreement provides Zabka Polska S.A. an interoperability solution incorporating the essential element of intellectual property assurances," said Maciej Klaskala, chief information officer for Zabka Polska S.A. "We plan to deploy this solution across the infrastructure supporting various elements of retail supply chain management infrastructure. This will clearly help Zabka focus on our core business of being the most modern and customer-oriented network of retail stores throughout Poland. The Novell and Microsoft alliance is a terrific step for us in driving greater innovation across our organization."
"As one of the top 10 Catholic healthcare systems in the United States, with over 40 hospitals in our network, we cannot afford downtime," said George Conklin, chief information officer for CHRISTUS Health. "We looked to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as a key component to our information-systems strategy in order to improve overall availability for key infrastructure and mission-critical applications, as well as to reduce overall total cost of ownership. The agreement between Novell and Microsoft makes this an even more appealing decision. By taking advantage of the interoperability between our Windows and Linux environments, we're able to significantly streamline the management of our infrastructure."
Beyond this customer momentum, the two companies continue their technical collaboration on solutions to help customers work more efficiently in the areas of virtualization, standards-based management, directory and identity federation, and document format compatibility. Indeed, Microsoft and Novell engineers are now working closely in the Microsoft and Novell Interoperability Lab in Cambridge, Mass., running automated tests to ensure the interoperability of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 with Windows Server virtualization and Windows Server 2008 with Xen. The combined team is working with developers in Redmond, Wash.; Provo, Utah; and Nuremberg, Germany; to ensure seamless interoperability between the two operating systems.
New Collaboration to Improve Computer Access for People With Disabilities
Building on the success of this collaboration, Novell and Microsoft today announced they will work together to make it easier for all software companies and developers to create and deliver accessible products for Windows and Linux platforms, providing better computer access for people with disabilities, especially those who are blind, in today's increasingly digital world.
Microsoft will make available its User Interface Automation (UIA) specification, an advanced accessibility framework that simplifies the development of assistive technology products for people with one or more disabilities, and pledge not to assert any Microsoft patents necessary to implement the specification against anyone, regardless of platform, in the open source and proprietary software communities. In concert, to promote interoperability between leading accessibility frameworks in the market, Novell will develop and deliver an adapter that allows the UIA framework to work well with existing Linux accessibility projects and complement the investments made by IBM Corp. and others. Novell's work will be open source and will make the UIA framework cross-platform while enabling UIA to interoperate with the Linux Accessibility Toolkit (ATK), which ships with SUSE Linux Enterprise, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu Linux. The UIA solution will ensure interoperability of nonvisual access to the next generation of software applications.
"Microsoft's commitment to make the specification for UIA freely available to others to implement, coupled with Novell's plans to develop and deliver an adapter that allows Linux accessibility projects to work well with the UIA framework, are tremendous examples of how industry can come together to tackle interoperability problems for blind persons," said Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind. "The NFB challenges the entire IT industry to continue to look for creative opportunities such as this to solve longstanding interoperability challenges and reduce development barriers to accessibility."
"Through our work on the Linux desktop and on OpenOffice.org, Novell has been a long-time contributor to the Linux accessibility framework," said Novell's Jaffe. "With this expansion of our technical collaboration with Microsoft, we are writing more open source code that builds a bridge between the Microsoft accessibility framework and the existing Linux framework. As a result, people with disabilities will have greater access to computer tools and applications, regardless of the operating system platform."
"I'm thrilled," said Janina Sajka, chairwoman of the Open Accessibility Work Group at the Linux Foundation. "Adding to the ecosystem more toolkits that interoperate is beneficial to the whole accessibility community. We welcome Novell's expanding contribution to open accessibility development efforts on Linux."