Novell is giving away $2500 of networking software to small and medium businesses for free in order to ensure they escape the consequences of the millennium bug and enter the 21st century with Internet capabilities.
The offer includes a five user Netware for Small Businesses 4.2 network and GroupWise 5.2, an administrative, messaging and management solution. The package also provides the basis for SMEs to upgrade non-Y2K compliant software, which according to Federal Government statistics could still effect up to 200,000 businesses.
According to Cliff Smith, managing director of Novell, these figures provide an excellent opportunity for the vendor and its partners to enter the market. "Small businesses don't change very often but this year they will have to because of the threat of Y2K. This provides Novell and its partners with the ability to consolidate their position with customers who are looking to upgrade, to extend their customer base to businesses who wouldn't otherwise install a network and provide services on top of product sales," explains Smith.
Novell network partners can simply nominate themselves to be involved in the program, the only criteria being a "focus on small businesses", according to Smith. Recipients of the offer have an equally easy standard to meet -- they must be a registered business based in Australia and have a minimum of five staff. Smith claims that the diversity and ease of participation of channel partners and end users is simply a marketing strategy aimed at promoting the acceptance of Novell products in this segment of the market. "We could have paid for a marketing program but it would have had to have been very broad-based to meet all the needs of small businesses. Instead we decided to give the money to the customer and let them decide," Smith added.