In the global war between Linux and Microsoft, Novell Inc. and Wincor Nixdorf are banding together to battle the software giant on the point-of-sale (POS) frontline.
This new partnership allows Paderborn, Germany-based Wincor Nixdorf to embed the newly released Novell Linux Point of Service 9 into its POS products. It is designed specifically for retail POS and provides, among other features, dual-image capability, allowing retailers to use the same client image for an in-store server and POS client. It also includes a centralized deployment capability and diskless client support.
“We also offer all of the benefits of Linux, such as better security and reliability, all at a low total cost of ownership,” said Ruud Goulooze, alliances sales director at Novell, a provider of infrastructure software headquartered in Waltham, Mass.
Boon to Segment
Goulooze told LinuxInsider that the Linux operating system is experiencing significant growth in the retail industry, “especially in those market segments where the high competitive nature of the market space demands constant drives towards cost and performance improvements — and this is where Linux solutions offer a great benefit.”
Goulooze said the partnership helps both firms compete in the POS market. “This contract enables Novell to further expand its Linux solutions into an important vertical market and establishes Novell’s market position as that of an attractive partner for global companies,” he said. Plus, he said it helps expand the global reach of Wincor Nixdorf.
Michael Schulte, head of retail software marketing at Wincor Nixdorf, said that the partnership with Novell rounds out its Linux portfolio. “Our existing Linux platform portfolio is supplemented with a sophisticated Linux server platform, as well as a globally available Linux distribution for store systems,” Schulte told LinuxInsider.
“In addition to this, Novell and Wincor Nixdorf own the mandatory infrastructure and expertise to ensure availability of an industry-conforming Linux release. This translates to long-term protection of a customer’s IT investments.”
There are other selling points as well. Schulte said the Linux-based POS platform is packed with features. “A long product lifecycle, international deployability, flexible expansion, tailoring and customizing options, openness for various hardware platforms and excellent integrability are some of the outstanding characteristics,” he said.
While most of the competitors use Java as the software deployment platform, Schulte said their platform uses Linux to ensure that it can be scaled to various resource requirements. “Thus it is ideal for migrating from an MS DOS environment to a modern 32-bit environment without forcing the retailer to change hardware,” he said.
Will this partnership be enough to dislodge Microsoft from the lead in retail POS? A recent study by IHL Consulting Group in Franklin, Tenn., found that only seven percent of retailers use a Linux-based system. But of those surveyed, 37 percent are “seriously considering” one for the future. The segments with the highest interest are food/grocery at 67 percent, specialty hard goods at 41 percent and department stores at 38 percent. IHL concluded the likely replacement rate is showing “significant growth” over 2004.
Battle Set To Begin
Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group in San Jose, Calif., said that the impact Linux is having on retail POS is not as big as he originally expected. “I expected Linux to dominate POS … instead Microsoft does,” Enderle told LinuxInsider.
But the real battle to dominate may have only just begun. Enderle said Novell is seen as the only company that can go to-to-toe with Microsoft for an extended period of time. “This agreement vastly raises Novell’s position on the embedded Linux side which has been solidly thrashed by Microsoft over the last two years,” he said.
“For Wincor it gives them the ability to sell what may be the leading POS open-source platform in the market and that should be very powerful.”