As The VAR Guy suspected: Nearly a dozen software partners are set to rally around Novell's SUSE Linux Appliance strategy at BrainShare, a customer and partner conference held this week in Utah. Here's a look at the SUSE Linux partners -- from Black Diamond to Zmanda -- and the implications for Novell's channel partners. Plus, a look at potential software appliance partners Novell still needs to recruit.

Launched in 2009, the SUSE Linux Appliance and SUSE Studio strategies strive to give ISVs and channel partners tools that speed application deployments. In theory, the effort is a win for Novell's partners as well as a win for Novell -- which is striving to match Red Hat Enterprise Linux's  application base.

With those goals in mind, the following software partners are set to rally around SUSE Linux at BrainShare:

1. Black Diamond: The IBM Business Partner promotes Presto software development appliances, which combines IBM software delivered as VMware appliances for small and midsize businesses. A quick check of Black Diamond's website reveals no mention of SUSE Linux. So, The VAR Guy suspects Black Diamond will make some SUSE Linux moves at BrainShare.

2. Groundwork Open Source: The systems management specialist claims to be making inroads against established giants like BMC, CA, Hewlett-Packard OpenView and IBM Tivoli. The VAR Guy will perform a reality check regarding Groundworks' SUSE Linux efforts at BrainShare.

3. IBM: No surprise here. IBM is a longstanding SUSE Linux partner, promoting both Novell and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) in order to ensure healthy competition and customer choice in the Linux market. Also of note: The VAR Guy will be watching if IBM-Lotus makes significant news at BrainShare.

4. Ingres: The open source database specialist has big plans for 2010, according to CEO Roger Burkhardt. Just last week, the company announced its SUSE Linux appliance. Smart timing, considering Ingres must compete with the Oracle-MySQL combo, plus Red Hat has invested some dough in Ingres rival EnterpriseDB.

5. ISD Corp.:  The payment management software develop says it has 160 brand name customers including specialty retailers, grocery store chains, gas stations and the hospitality vertical. The company's decision to embrace the SUSE Linux Appliance platform could help Novell partners push deeper into the above-noted verticals.

6. MindTouch: The company develops an open source alternative for enterprise and web collaboration and serves more than 16 million users worldwide. The company claims its platform combines Wiki and enterprise portal capabilities into a single system. Novell wasn't exactly known as a Web 2.0 powerhouse. Perhaps ISVs like MindTouch can help to change that perception.

7. Novell Sentinel Log Manager: Um, does a Novell product really qualify as a SUSE Linux Appliance partnership? In this case, The VAR Guy will cut Novell some slack because our resident blogger often criticizes Novell for failing to connect the dots between its different software groups. In this case, Novell's log management software certainly runs on a SUSE Linux Appliance.

8. ROC Software: Scheduling software isn't the sexiest application, but more than 4,000 customers worldwide depend on ROC Software's offerings.

9. SEP: The disaster recovery specialist lined up to support SUSE Studio in November 2009. Based in Germany, SEP has been working with channel partners to promote its disaster recovery software in North America.

10. Zmanda: Back in early 2009, The VAR Guy heard that Zmanda was exploring a closer working relationship with Novell -- especially on the appliance front. Fast forward to the present, and Zmanda has fulfilled that goal. Zmanda could also help Novell partners to push deeper into the government market, because Zmanda's backup software is on the Synnex General Services Agreement Schedule.

Missing From the Spotlight

Despite the partners above, Novell does have a few key holes in its SUSE Linux Appliance and SUSE Studio strategy. Among the key players apparently missing from the lineup at BrainShare:
  1. Alfresco: The open source enterprise content management specialist
  2. Oracle's MySQL: Will Oracle move toward -- or away -- from SUSE Linux?
  3. Open-Xchange: A few years ago, Novell had the chance to acquire Open-Xchange, an open source email platform that many SUSE Linux veterans have worked on. But the Novell GroupWise team vetoed the deal, The VAR Guy hears. Too bad. SUSE/Open-Xchange would be a powerful combo vs. Windows Server running Microsoft Exchange.
  4. Zimbra: Now owned by VMware, it's clear virtualized appliances running the Zimbra open source email platform will arrive soon.

Reality Check

Novell has made some solid progress with SUSE Studio and the SUSE Linux Appliance partner efforts. But Novell still needs to get some big names to back the appliance effort.

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