While Red Hat has been the best-known Linux flavor among SMBs, it now has some serious competition in the form of Novell Inc. Novell introduced SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 this year, which is a desktop to data center Linux platform, i.e., it includes common server and desktop elements small businesses can use to reduce the administrative burden.
Further, the company offers Pattern Deployments--such as e-mail server, file server and Web server--which let you select the kind of server you want. Installation is then automatically configured to provide the most efficient and streamlined version of the type of server chosen.
"What it means for the end user is fewer lines of operating system code on every server, which means a smaller footprint, improved performance and fewer things that can go wrong," says Justin Steinman, director of Linux & open platform solutions at Novell.
Stonebridge Bank, a small community bank in West Chester, Penn., for instance, uses Novell. To trim operating costs, it decided to offload its Windows systems and move to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
"We moved to Linux because we liked the idea of an open enterprise," said George Rapp, senior vice president of information systems at Stonebridge. "Novell gives us the best technology, pricing and support options for Linux."
Novell Linux, says Rapp, has cut the total cost of ownership for each server from $230 to $31 per server per month. In addition, it has reduced the bank's administration time and eliminated the need to hire additional staff. One person now manages the bank's Linux environment.
"It's been easy for staff familiar with Windows and NetWare to pick up Linux," said Rapp. "Linux gives us a common skill set and simplifies administration."