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Do-No-Evil Saturday - Part II: BrainShare 2008 Overview

We have been tracking announcements and reports from BrainShare over the past week. Here is a quick roundup that hopefully sheds some light on what was happening.

BrainShare Opening



The conference was formally announced with this press release.

At its annual BrainShare user conference today, Novell unveiled products, partnerships and its strategic vision for the future to customers, partners, press, and industry and financial analysts. Novell's BrainShare, with 5,500 participants from 58 countries, features keynotes, business and technical sessions, and demonstrations that illuminate Novell's software that solves customer problems today and Novell's strategy for streamlining computing in the future. Cornerstone sponsor SAP leads a group of 65 sponsors and exhibitors at the conference.


Zonker gave somewhat of an introduction the following day. It's brief.

First thing this morning I went to the General Session (a.k.a. “keynote”) with Ron Hovsepian, Jeff Jaffe, John Dragoon, and Jim Ebzery. (If you couldn’t make it, or just want to relive the experience, the vids are already up on the BrainShare site here.) The room was packed — not sure how many people were at the general session, but it was a huge room, and looked quite full from where I was sitting.


Photos



In case you want to see what it looked like, here are some photos. Seems nice.

However Novell also provides plenty of down-time opportunities from pool tables, and huge TV screens showing episodes of the US version of The Office.


Agility, Agility, Agility



Yes, there was a theme which got rather tedious after you saw it dozens of times in the press. For example:

Free and open source software plus agility is Brainshare mantra


More of the "agile/agility" chorus:

Jeff Jaffe, Novell's CTO and EVP of business units, outlined the company's technical vision at this week's BrainShare 2008 conference in Salt Lake City, codenamed The Fossa Project. Jaffe explained that a fossa is an agile, cat-like animal native to Madagascar with no known predators. Fossa, he mentioned, also serves well as an acronym for "Free and Open Source Software with Agility."


And again:

Speaking at the company's annual user conference Brainshare, Novell's CTO Jeff Jaffe has announced the company's new technology strategy which it has rather curiously decided to name after an endangered relative of the mongoose - the Madagascan Fossa.

Despite keeping references to open source and Linux to a minimum, in this morning's keynote speeches, the Fossa is obviously a play on Free and Open Source Software with the 'A' standing for agility. Novell claims that its going to revolutionise the IT world by focusing on creating "agile infrastructure".


Even in headlines: Novell lays out vision for SUSE, IT agility at BrainShare

Mixed-IT environments are here to stay. And Novell Inc. wants to be the lubricant -- that is, the infrastructure software company -- that makes them all work together.


Another headline: Novell pushes agile infrastructure vision

Novell has kicked off its annual user conference by announcing ambitious plans to instigate what it claims is "the next revolution in the IT industry".


Keynote and Beyond



Then came some more report about talks from the executives.

But some of the most interesting tidbits came in interviews held away from the glare and video cameras of the keynote spotlights.


And more on Microsoft's involvement:

The widely criticized Microsoft Corp.-Novell Inc. interoperability agreement has been a success for his company, Novell CEO Ron Hovespian said Monday.

Speaking to a group of international journalists at the Novell’s annual Brainshare conference in Salt Lake City, Hovespian said the deal – signed in November 2006 – has worked because most enterprises have both Novell and Microsoft software deployed in their IT environment. And in order to keep the harmony between two software stacks like JSEE and .NET or between Linux and Windows, he said, Waltham, Mass.-based Novell will continue to foster a working relationship that focuses on interoperability and efficiency with Microsoft products.


Miscellany



Quite a few reports from Peter Galli, who was apparently there:

1. Novell to Focus on the `Agile Infrastructure`

The project is code-named Fossa after the agile animal living in the jungles of Madagascar that has no known predators.



2. Novell to Announce New, Expanded Partnerships

At BrainShare, the company also will announce a deal that will see the SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 preloaded on hardware from a major vendor.

SALT LAKE CITY—Novell will use its annual BrainShare conference here March 17 to announce new and expanded partnerships as well as to show off some of the features and functionality of its upcoming SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11.


On the CEO's talk:

Novell's chief executive officer and president, Ron Hovsepian, told several thousand people Monday that he has "quite a long list" of reasons to be proud of the company, including a burgeoning customer base and continued innovation.


Some more from the local press:

Top Novell, Inc., officials outlined a strategy Monday that includes an emphasis on products that allow companies greater flexibility to integrate various brands of software into a more seamless whole - and to move the social networking revolution into business.


From Jan Stafford, who is an excellent reporter:

At the annual Novell BrainShare user conference that started in Salt Lake City today, Novell unveiled its roadmap and loaded the car with new friends. The roadmap includes a new strategy focused on agility, called Fossa, and a new release of SUSE: SUSE Linux Enterprise 11. Joining Novell for the trip will be new partners bearing products such as SAP, PlateSpin and Atos Origin.


After a very fast start, the conference slowed down somewhat, at least in terms of announcement pace and magnitude. Var Guy thinks so as well.

Novell didn’t deliver any home-run news during BrainShare on March 17, but the software company did manage to smack a few solid singles during the day. Overall, the buzz from Utah sounded pretty upbeat. Here’s a look at Monday’s developments, and The VAR Guy’s take on the situation.


Future posts will look at some less Linux-oriented announcements and contain rather dull press releases. We must keep abreast of Novell's strategy in order to understand how it may evolve and what this means to Free software and its future prospects.

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