Cape-based real estate company Pam Golding Properties is one of the first South African customers to support a mixed-source IT environment offered by a collaboration between Microsoft and Novell.
The two companies are halfway through a five-year collaboration agreement that seeks to provide a bridge between proprietary and open source software. So far, more than 200 joint customers have been signed up around the world, including BP Oil and China Mobile.
Paulo Ferreira, the platform strategy manager at Microsoft South Africa, says most customers have a combination of open source and proprietary technologies – and they do not wish to rely on a single technology, or a single vendor.
"Customers want their vendors to come together and solve their problems," he says.
Novell SA country manager Michelle Beetar says her company is seeing especially strong demand for joint solutions in the data centre. Here a mixed-source environment is increasingly the norm and where a vision of true interoperability is compelling.
"We've got to face the challenge of designing and developing products that work well with each other. Customers are increasingly appreciating the efforts that Microsoft and Novell have put into solving real-life interoperability challenges and providing them with IP peace of mind. So there is a model by which these customer objectives can be met."
Pam Golding Properties has existing investments in Windows and Linux across key business applications and systems.
"We feel that both Windows and Linux have a clear role to play, but we needed the ability to manage two sets of servers and diverse platforms from a central point," says Henry Potgieter, service delivery manager at Pam Golding Properties. "The fact that Microsoft and Novell recognise this reality, and actively cater for it, has made our lives a whole lot easier."
The company is standardising on both Microsoft Windows Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as key components of its technology strategy.
"We did not want a variety of different Linux distributions installed, as we wanted to minimise our Linux operational risks and costs by standardising on just one widely supported distribution," says Potgieter.
"The Microsoft and Novell partnership agreement means we have greater assurance that these platforms will be optimised to interoperate with each other. This arrangement is setting a new benchmark in the technology industry that other suppliers must now work to meet."
Another key area of the collaboration is that of virtualisation – a technology which allows applications to run across multiple servers, or multiple applications to run on a single server, increasing flexibility and efficiency. The two companies will be presenting a joint workshop for customers and partners on virtualisation in Johannesburg later this month.
Their joint offering provides the first complete, fully-supported and optimised virtualisation solution to span Windows and Linux environments.