Imagine if the Los Angeles Lakers held a fan rally in Boston, right in the Celtics' back yard. That's the situation facing the open source industry, where the Red Hat Summit starts June 18 right in Boston -- roughly 15 miles from Novell's corporate headquarters. So, should Novell defend its home turf and march on Red Hat's parade? The VAR Guy certainly would. Here's how.

First, some background: Red Hat Summit is a massive gathering of Red Hat partners, customers and followers. Red Hat will also provide some channel partner program updates at the event, and may even discuss a few strategies for managed service providers, according to MSPmentor.

Now, for the drama (supplied by The VAR Guy, of course): The event runs June 18 through June 20 at the Hynes Convention Center -- which is a 15-mile drive from Novell's headquarters in Waltham, Mass.

Another Tea Party?

So, how could Novell counter Red Hat while the summit is in town?

Certainly, prominent Novell SuSE Linux ads on buses, taxis, billboards and other public displays would catch some attention. And this is a prime opportunity for Novell to schedule some lunches and dinners with mutual partners -- say, IBM, Intel and AMD -- while those cherished sources are in Boston for the Red Hat event.

Novell could even throw a few curve balls: How about some SuSE Linux ads in Fenway Park, where Red Hat will host a private tour of the stadium for selected guests?

But hey: The VAR Guy isn't playing favorites here. He's just cheering for a good game -- and maybe a few brush back pitches along the way.

Steal the Spotlight?

Conventional wisdom says Red Hat continues to dominate the corporate Linux server market, especially in North America. But Novell has turned a few heads lately, surprising skeptics with improving sales and profits.

The VAR Guy was down on Novell in 2007, but he's gradually opened his mind to Novell and its improving fortunes this year. Even full-time open source bloggers like Matt Asay are giving Novell a second look.

Still, Novell's marketing has taken its lumps over the years -- and being the number 2 company in an open source industry can be thankless. Some of Novell's marketing messages got lost in the noise of Microsoft, Red Hat and security companies that compete with Novell's own identity management tools. Other Novell messages were too passive.

Will Novell take the next step, and launch a few surprise attacks during the Red Hat Summit in Boston? The VAR Guy will be watching.