Novell has announced that North Yorkshire County Council is the latest authority to sign up for Novell’s Strategis Enterprise Agreement (SEA). This brings together seven Novell products under a single licensing agreement to offer local authorities a cost-effective way to upgrade the existing IT infrastructure.

The council, which is England’s largest local authority, is to extend its IT services so that it can link up its many remote offices and mobile workers. In particular, it’s looking to offer a new range of services using its wireless wide area network. The council is working with Novell partner Computercenter to roll out the system and provide frontline support.

The council’s managed services manager, Charles Arrand, said that the SEA offered an effective way forward. In a statement, he said “Our objective was to manage the IT resources we have in a more structured way, without increasing the administrative burden on ICT Services. Novell’s SEA combines the software that we need to streamline systems management and provide a secure, reliable level of access for the Council’s staff.”

According to Ben Bulpett, Novell’s enterprise sales director, The Strategic Enterprise Agreement, which offers the Novell products at about £60 per seat, has now been adopted by nearly 60 local authorities in the UK - reflecting their interest in getting value for money.

He added that the SEA was a way to make legacy equipment more cost-effective. “Suppose a council has an old ICL mainframe to handle its council tax. Under government directives, the council now has to offer more interaction; how are you going to pay bills online for example? We offer the ability to upgrade that platform.”

He said that Novell’s proposed acquisition of SuSE has rewoken interest in Novell among several large users and not just those in the public sector. “There is a significant number of organisations who have gone over to Microsoft and who are increasingly unhappy about Microsoft’s licensing policy. We have taken calls from some large financial institutions who are looking for an alternative to Microsoft and who seem happy that there is going to be some choice.”

Novell has been growing its interest in Linux. As well as its proposed acquisition of SuSE, the company also bought US Linux house Ximian in the summer.