Linked by Eugenia Loli on Sun 23rd Oct 2005 03:27 UTC
Novell and Ximian Novell is expected to initiate a major round of layoffs that could cut 1000 or more jobs in an attempt to restore the server software company's financial strength, according to employees familiar with the plan.
Thread beginning with comment 50015
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Novell still has serious problems in linux market
by on Sun 23rd Oct 2005 05:04 UTC

Member since:

look at redhat. regardless of what you may think of them as a contributor to the community (although they are a very good one), they simply have a better business model.

1. they are not tied to a legacy product and market the way novell is with its old product line.

2. they offer one core product - RHEL, and the support issues are where they go into fine-tuning per customer needs. novell has suse and its own branded linux. this confuses customers. don't try providing your own rationales in replies, just face it, it is confusing for one company to offer two parallel competing products.

3. redhat made the move to differentiate fedora before opensuse. with ubuntu coming on strong, who is left to bother with opensuse?

4. redhat is making better decisions about what communities to support. this is a trivial issue of course, but i just don't see evolution paying off for novell, nor is mono. i think the ximian products have hit with a thud no matter how much hype nat and miguel throw behind them. sorry miguel, no one really cares about .net compatibility, because the next great platform was the web itself (see:google, flickr, delicious, etc etc), not a runtime/api.

Reply Score: 1

Member since:

Well, in reply to #4, I think Novell has an opportunity to upgrade customers from Outlook and Exchange to some sort of Evolution/Thunderbird client and mail server Linux solution. If they properly invest their time and resources...

But although they understand that Linux is good they don't seem to have much of a clue about what makes it good. At least from my perspective, the first thing I would have done is create an opensuse distro and get to ripping out all the things about suse that I never liked. Port all Novell's previous tech, or any of it that's still relevant, to Linux and quickly phase out those old products and increase support costs for customers that choose not to upgrade. Then invest all those employee resources into making their Linux more customer friendly, easier to work on and manage (read: automation, automation, automation, and some scripts),
easier to learn and do everything in my power to get the word out, give it away, give hardware or pay bounties or royalties to significant contributors,
lay off the old people who don't like change, force everyone to take a 4:20 break, etc.

I would do things right. Plus I would be very open minded about suggestions, since I'm sure I missed a few important details. We all do.

Reply Parent Score: 0

Member since:

>> I think Novell has an opportunity to
>> upgrade customers
>> from Outlook and Exchange to some sort of
>> Evolution/Thunderbird client

this is an open issue, but i think the next major move in email, as with many other functions tied to a platform, is to get them on the web. personally i use gmail as an aggregator of all of my work and personal mail. i know many people who are forwarding and relaying from webmail simply because they are on the move constantly, and would much rather trust a server farm than their laptop. webmail is a nontrivial market - yahoo and google have nearly 100 million regular webmail users. if they can provide real business-class functionality to users, they will change the software market.

for those who insist on staying on a client, i suspect they will likely just stay with outlook since it provides the exchange hooks they likely have grown to love. i don't use outlook but i have not heard a compelling argument why those who use it and don't mind it would switch. for those who just don't like microsoft, they are likely already using thunderbird on windows.

>> lay off the old people who don't like change, force
>> everyone to take a 4:20 break, etc.

well the issue is that some of those old-timers are bringing in a lot of money via support contacts that are more or less easy money at this point. novell would be stupid not to milk that cash at this point, they already made the investments needed.

the more salient point is what the heck are the ximian guys really doing to put money in the bank for this company? sure they do great pr with their blogging etc, and they have a great pedigree, but once again, i offer that their fundamental vision of mono as a platform is a flop. where is this future where everyone gives a poop about .net apps? it never played out, webapps killed it.

the web as a platform is going to hurt all of the OS-based platform companies to some regard, because frankly your OS really doesn't matter that much any more, which is the entire point of the network computer built on open standards.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Googlesaurus Member since:
2005-10-19

"Well, in reply to #4, I think Novell has an opportunity to upgrade customers from Outlook and Exchange to some sort of Evolution/Thunderbird client and mail server Linux solution."

Many wouldn't consider this an "upgrade". Exchange and Outlook are a rather formidable combination.
Longtime business users of Outlook are not going to part with it for a lot of reasons other than e-mail. Outlook is almost a way of life for some users, and thats not going to change anytime soon.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Member since:

I agree Novell has problems, but I don't agree with a lot of your reasoning.

1. they are not tied to a legacy product and market the way novell is with its old product line.

Unavoidable. This isn't a problem, it's an opportunity, one that Novell is actually taking advantage of. Unlike Red Hat, Novell has a fairly substantial legacy customer base, and over time they will try to move these people over to newer (read: Linux) offerings. It's happening already. Whether they will be able to hold on financially is another matter.

2. they offer one core product - RHEL, and the support issues are where they go into fine-tuning per customer needs. novell has suse and its own branded linux. this confuses customers. don't try providing your own rationales in replies, just face it, it is confusing for one company to offer two parallel competing products.

Novell is in a unique situation - SUSE has its own brand awareness, and to simply ditch it would confuse existing customers. Thus the blend we have at present - Novell Linux "powered by SUSE LINUX". Not great, but a pretty good attempt - IMHO - to differentiate.

Red Hat's problem with Fedora is that it isn't really capable of being a stable OS for SOHO users; it lacks commercial software out of the box and can be rather unstable; in addition, there are no official support resources. SUSE has better features - commercial plugins, NTFS support, a knowledgebase - and can continue to stand on its own.

Over time, Novell should consider dumping its "powered by SUSE LINUX" tag for its enterprise line, especially as OpenSUSE becomes more bleeding edge.

3. redhat made the move to differentiate fedora before opensuse. with ubuntu coming on strong, who is left to bother with opensuse?

Ubuntu doesn't have YaST, doesn't have a graphical installer, and doesn't have any commercial drivers out of the box. SUSE doesn't have the plethora of Debian software to call on, doesn't have a proper dependency management system (although Smart is coming), and doesn't have a particularly strong community. There's a place for both.

4. redhat is making better decisions about what communities to support. this is a trivial issue of course, but i just don't see evolution paying off for novell, nor is mono. i think the ximian products have hit with a thud no matter how much hype nat and miguel throw behind them. sorry miguel, no one really cares about .net compatibility, because the next great platform was the web itself (see:google, flickr, delicious, etc etc), not a runtime/api.

The web is great for thin client stuff, but as the recent Google rebuttal of the StarOffice rumours shows, there will be a place for desktop applications for some time to come. .NET adoption is growing rapidly, not so much in the SOHO world as in the enterprise - Novell's primary focus, remember - and thus Mono is very important. I do agree that Ximian desktop was not all it could have been; however, Red Carpet (now ZENworks for Linux) is quite nice.

Reply Parent Score: 0

Member since:

look at redhat... they simply have a better business model.

Red Hat business model: sell Red Hat stock high, buy back low.

Red Hat was lucky to make half a billion dollars on dot-com stupidity. Then, for very long time, they could afford to be not profitable. In fact, they could make more money in interest on their dot-com immoral profits (what is moral in stealing money from people?) than in software and services sales.

Novell was too late to the game. They have to survive on sales and services alone.

Reply Parent Score: 0