In a bid to extend Linux enterprise offerings into the mid-market, Novell has inked a distribution deal with Avnet and hatched an authorised testing and certification centre with the value-added distributor.
As part of the deal, Avnet will sell Novell's SuSe Linux Enterprise Server 9.
The Linux testing and certification centre was the first of its kind in the country, Novell Australia's general manager of sales, Ian Jackson, said.
"Avnet is our first Linux distributor in this particular region, and it also provides a 'yes' certification for all of our ISVs," Jackson said. "So the new relationship is very important."
The company has more than 500 A/NZ development partners on the books.
At the Novell Authorised Testing Centre (NATC), ISVs will be able to get their applications certified to run on the SuSe platform. Avnet will help partners validate their systems, drivers, storage products, network products, and ensure applications meet specific performance requirements.
To date, four ISVs have boarded the testing train - BakBone Software, VisionGateway, Fusionware, and Meier Business Systems.
Jackson said the Linux market was picking up speed. This was reflected in the number of customers knocking on the door - a business scenario unheard of eight months ago.
"The Linux momentum in the marketplace since Novell took over SuSe and Symbian in the past 12 months has given us a profile that we've never had before," he said.
Avnet Partner Solutions Australia's managing director, Colin McKenna, said the Avnet-Novell SuSe relationship would help the company reach out to the ISV community.
"We want to become a go-to place for solutions in the mid-market," McKenna said. "We see more and more a drive towards Linux, and there are growing opportunities for value-add."
And while the relationship won't bear immediate fruit, McKenna said it was a long-term bet.
"I don't anticipate huge revenue, but it's an important step as a value-add," he said. "It's more important strategically, less important financially."
Avnet currently works with 250 IBM resellers and 50 HP partners. Asked how the Novell products fitted into the overall company mix, he said the Linux offerings were ideally suited for IBM and HP server solutions.
"If other ISVs want to port Linux applications to other platforms, we can help them," McKenna said.
He said the recent Linux moves would help differentiate Avnet from its competitors.
McKenna said Avnet had fewer connections than a broad-based player such as Ingram Micro but could offer expertise in taking complex solutions into the mid-market.
"As a value distributor we have very few vendor relationships, but they are extremely deep," he said. "We have less than 20 relationships globally, as opposed to Ingram's hundreds."
McKenna said the Ingram/Tech Pac merger would bring challenges and opportunities to Avnet.
"It would be foolish to discount the threats, but we have an opportunity to differentiate in terms of solution selling, and offering value-add in terms of a high-level focus on the SMB community," he said.