Novell vs. Red Hat: The Battle for Software Partners

 |  Includes: NOVL, RHT
by: Joe Panettieri

Who has more certified software partners: Novell Inc. (NASDAQ:NOVL) or Red Hat Inc. (NYSE:RHT)? The answer to that critical question could determine which company dominates the long-term Linux market.

In the 1990s, Microsoft grew dominant because software developers wrote applications for Windows. Now, Novell and Red Hat are using that same strategy as they compete against one another in the Linux market.

Novell on Nov. 24 claimed to be leading the Linux software market with more than 2,500 certified partner applications. Novell also said an average of 140 new applications are certified on SUSE Linux every month.

Now, for the reality check. Novell’s carefully worded press release says:

Based on publicly available information, [Novell] SUSE Linux Enterprise 9 and 10 have the most certified software applications when compared to the latest releases of all other commercial Linux* distributions.

Let’s dissect that sentence for a moment. Basically, Novell focusing the conversation on SUSE Linux Enterprise 9 and 10 vs. Red Hat’s latest release — Enterprise Linux 5.

Reality Check

Now for the twist: Red Hat released Enterprise Linux 5 in March 2007. Sometime that same year, Red Hat surpassed 3,000 certified applications. At the time, Red Hat stated:

The growth rate of applications in our catalog has been astonishingly rapid, from just a 100 or so applications in late 2002, we crossed the 1,000 barrier in 2004, and the 2,000 barrier in early 2006.

So, how can Novell claim to be “leading” the software partner with 2,500 certified applications when Red Hat Enterprise Linux had 3,000 certified applications in 2007? Perhaps Novell thinks many of Red Hat’s ISVs are certified for older Red Hat releases.

Regardless, I'm enjoying Novell’s latest attempt to get under Red Hat’s skin. Novell attacked Red Hat in mid-November, with a new offer to help partners migrate customers from Red Hat Enterprise Linux to SUSE Linux.

Ultimately, partners and customers are the big winners in this apparent showdown between Novell and Red Hat. Competition will surely drive innovation and cost-effective open source solutions.

Disclosure: no positions