When Novell Brainshare 2010 kicks off March 21 in Salt Lake City, the company will put several initiatives in the spotlight. Among the top two priorities. Promoting Novell Pulse (a real-time communication and social messaging platform for enterprises) and promoting SUSE Linux software partners. Here are the details.

After a one-year hiatus due to the recession, BrainShare returns at a critical time for Novell. The company is set to announce Fiscal Q1 results on Feb. 25. Those results should help partners to determine if Novell is gaining momentum with its Intelligent Workload Management initiative, launched in December 2009. Also, Novell needs to prove that its non-SUSE Linux businesses, particularly identity management and security, are showing progress.

Regardless of the financial results, Novell should be able to highlight some key business milestones at BrainShare. Chief among them: Progress with Novell Pulse, a communications and social messaging platform unveiled in November 2009. Novell says Pulse includes interoperability with Google Wave through the federation protocol, letting Novell Pulse users communicate in real-time with users on any other Wave provider.

Eager to generate buzz for Novell Pulse, Novell is working on a Pulse promotion that will debut the week of February 22. The promotion will include a drawing for a free conference pass to BrainShare. To enter, participants merely need to Tweet their request to @NovellPulse, while including the hashtags #BrainShare2010 and #Catchthebeat, according to a Novell spokeswoman.

SUSE Software Partners

Meanwhile, Novell is preparing to put numerous SUSE Linux application partners in the BrainShare spotlight.

Chief among them: Ingres (the open source database specialist), Zmanda (backup) and Groundwork Open Source (systems management). The VAR Guy expects to see all three ISVs during a roundtable discussion. And of course, scores of additional ISVs will be at the conference.

Novell's goal: Continue to promote momentum around the SUSE Studio and SUSE Appliance Toolkit efforts. Those tools have helped thousands of ISVs to rapidly write software applications for SUSE Linux.

No doubt, The VAR Guy has spent recent years calling on Novell to build a strong ISV base -- an area where rival Red Hat has mostly shined. Novell's SUSE Studio efforts seem to be gaining momentum. The VAR Guy will know for sure when BrainShare starts March 21.