Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 22nd Jun 2006 14:09 UTC, submitted by Flatline
Novell and Ximian Novell's board of directors on Thursday named Ron Hovsepian CEO and president to replace Jack Messman, and ousted the company's chief financial officer. In a conference call on Thursday, company executives said the changes were made to accelerate the growth at Novell, which has had disappointing financial results, particularly in its Linux business.
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Not a matter of speed but direction
by pjjmartin on Thu 22nd Jun 2006 14:39 UTC
pjjmartin
Member since:
2005-07-08

All this talk about narrowing focus is worrisome. I think Novell needs to be widening its focus and branching out in search of more opportunities, whether that's breathing some life back into Netware (still overpriced, even after being beaten into a pulp by Win NT). Their Desktop Linux looks promising, but most software firms that have (arguably) lost money. Remember Corel. And Red Hat makes money through its server software and support.

Narrowing focus is really doublespeak for "shrinking the company." What if you narrow down to something that doesn't make money? Think of poor Be and their focus shift to the BeIA. How did that work out for them?

Edited 2006-06-22 14:40

Reply Score: 4

elsewhere Member since:
2005-07-13

All this talk about narrowing focus is worrisome. I think Novell needs to be widening its focus and branching out in search of more opportunities, whether that's breathing some life back into Netware (still overpriced, even after being beaten into a pulp by Win NT). Their Desktop Linux looks promising, but most software firms that have (arguably) lost money. Remember Corel. And Red Hat makes money through its server software and support.

No, Novell's problem has been that they're trying to embrace a new product/technology paradigm, but they're encumbered with a legacy old-school sales and management structure that won't let go of those Netware renewals that still roll in every year (in ever-shrinking numbers). Throwing sh!t at the wall to see what sticks isn't necessarily the best operating strategy unless you've got hordes of capital to burn through and can afford to experiment, a la google.

They need a focus, whether it's Netware/proprietary or whether it's OSS-Love everywhere, just make the decision and then restructure appropriately. The guys tagged with selling the new-tech this-is-our-future products are second-class citizens to the legacy 10+ year-under-their-belts corporate Netware guys who are simply waiting to be packaged out anyways.

This is likely just the first move in a necessary overhaul of Novell's structure so it will be interesting to see.

Whether they can really succeed with their linux strategy still remains to be seen, but without a proper focus, strategy and structure, then it would be doomed to fail anyways, so I'm cautiously optimistic, though a lot of work remains to be done.

Reply Parent Score: 3

grat Member since:
2006-02-02

Netware, the old 386 based kernel system, is dead. Those who absolutely must have it can do so in a Xen-style environment running under SLES 10. This is the official stance.

Now, the core services of netware, file (NSS), print (NDPS/iPrint), Groupwise, Zenworks, Identity Management, and of course eDirectory, have all been ported to other platforms, either through java, mono, or native code, in the case of eDir and NSS.

So the kernel's dead as a dodo, and honestly, should have died about 5 years ago. NW 6.5 is proof that they've reached the limits of what the old kernel design can handle.

Moving to a linux based kernel makes a lot of sense for them, and I hope it works.

But without an agressive marketing campaign, and a solid product (SLES 9 is good, but Open Enterprise Server/Linux is obviously a bolt on) that looks like a unified system to deliver to the customers, with a standardized management interface, that works with existing solutions, they're doomed.

OES has the functionality, but it's a bit schizoid as to whether it's a linux server or a linux server with Novell applications bolted on top. You configure some things in Yast, some in iManager, and some from the command line-- which just isn't a good setup. iManager keeps getting better, and between it and a fully functional Yast system, OES 2.0 (I have no idea what the next OES release is called) should be pretty spiffy.

Now they need to work on the marketing. Having managed hundreds of workstations via eDir/Zenworks and AD/SMS, there is absolutely no comparison-- Microsoft is 5-10 years behind the curve. Problem is, nobody knows what Zenworks can do.

Reply Parent Score: 5

segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Netware, the old 386 based kernel system, is dead. Those who absolutely must have it can do so in a Xen-style environment running under SLES 10. This is the official stance.

There's only one tiny flaw with that official stance Novell is taking. The revenue brought in by Linux is a tiny splash in a large ocean when compared with Novell's core Netware business. Netware is what's keeping Novell afloat. Novell are nowhere near being as much a Linux business as Red Hat is, and it is doubtful they'll ever catch up.

Running Netware in a VM under Xen is not enough at all, and is a fatal mistake. What Novell needed to do was continue to support Netware and continue to give it undivided attention, because that's where the money comes from, and work out a way of migrating customers from Netware to a Linux based system with little to no effort required from them. This Linux based system would have a wealth of software and admin tools they'd never had before, making sure they stayed with Novell, and attracting new customers into the bargain. They're a million miles away from this.

Novell thought their Netware customers would simply move over to Linux and endure the pain for them. They won't, and given the choice they will move to something else.

that looks like a unified system to deliver to the customers, with a standardized management interface, that works with existing solutions, they're doomed.

Novell have traditionally changed management interfaces every other day of the week.

Reply Parent Score: 5

kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

Their desktop does have potential, but if there aren't the ISV's there to provide the very software which companies rely to run their business on, then the whole exercise is a waste of time.

In a nutshell, their marketing is crap, their products are unfocused, their direction is questionable - putting all the eggs into one basket in regards to mono, and worse still, they've done little to actually integrate the SuSE product line up into a single, coherient Linux straterg that convinces customers that there is some longevity in their roadmap, rather than it being a half-hearted attempt to stay alive.

Reply Parent Score: 1

segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Their desktop does have potential, but if there aren't the ISV's there to provide the very software which companies rely to run their business on, then the whole exercise is a waste of time....putting all the eggs into one basket in regards to mono

Quite right too. I can't fathom why Novell hasn't got this. OK, maybe I can. But the only way to attract ISVs is to build up a large enough userbase, and there's no way a large userbase will be built up with Novell hoping that OEMs like HP and Dell will simply wake up one morning and decide to ship their OS.

To build up the userbase Novell need a desktop distribution to give away for free over the internet, and also the ISV programming infrastructure needs to be there. It doesn't take a genius to work out that you need the right technology to do that, and if you have a whole division devoted to Mono, a division of people devoted to the underlying desktop components and a division of people devoted to producing meaningful applications out of that technology then you're not exactly going to get far.

Edited 2006-06-23 15:39

Reply Parent Score: 1