After a long, long, long sleep - it appears as though the team at Novell has woken up and decided to get in the game.
First, Novell acquires Ximian which gives them Mono, a platform for running .Net applications on a Linux platform.
Now, Novell is acquiring SuSE Linux for $210 million in cash.
The way I see it, IBM will be encouraged to remain pure Java - while Microsoft will be encouraged to remain pure .Net. This leaves the 'neutral' ground in the middle wide open.
So, where does Novell go from here? I see more acquisitions. My conversations with people close to Novell lead me to believe that Novell really believes that web services are the *network operating system*. Thus, the Ximian and SuSe acquisitions were only laying the foundation for a distributed computing platform. I would look for Novell to continue down the M&A path, but this time moving up the stack - taking a hard look at web service platform vendors and perhaps even tool vendors like Borland.
But the real question deals with timing. Is it too late for Novell? Did they already lose the hearts and minds of the developer? I personally don't think that it is too late - remember, Novell was the company that forged programs like 'Gold Certified Novell Partner'. If Novell continues to make bold moves, they will attract the talent to create new developer-community offerings.
To Novell - Congratulations. I hope all that sleep you took gave you the rest needed to get into the next big battle.