Ray Noorda, the son of Dutch immigrants who drove Novell Netware to become the dominant local area network operating system in the 1980s, died Monday at the age of 82 after a long bout with Alzheimer’s disease. Noorda was the first to clearly articulate that the many interoperating parts of the computer industry meant that one company needed to cooperate with another to ensure their products worked together. In some realms, they might be both partners and competitors, he noted, in a relationship he summed up as ‘co-opetition’.
Ray Noorda, The CEO Who Led Novell To LAN Dominance, Dies At 82
Submitted by Moulinneuf 2006-10-10 Novell and Ximian 9 Comments
End of an era 🙁
However, if you look at how MS thrived even though it was non-interoperative and closed as you ever get, while Novell went damn close to sinking… somehow I feel being the nice guy in this world, doesn’t pay.
Novell fell victim to the MS behemoth in the 90’s for much the same reason as other top-of-their-game competitors did, they underestimated Microsoft’s determination. I remember selling Netware back in the day, an absolute ton of it, and the Novell reps laughed at the thought of NT ever becoming dominant in a client/server architecture. After all, it was GUI-based, so how could anyone take it seriously?
Still, hindsight is 20/20 vision. Netware certainly laid the groundwork for PC networking as we know it today and in that context may even have had a bigger impact on business computing than even Microsoft did. And despite Redmond’s best efforts, they still haven’t entirely succeeded in ripping Netware out of every datacenter.
Not too shabby, and a pretty decent legacy.
Without question, Ray Noorda was a brilliant guy, but I think that two of the reasons that Novell fell were that (1) they hung onto vertical integration too long, and (2) they failed to embrace a GUI for server administration. On the first point, there was a time when you could only buy Novell servers prepackaged on proprietary hardware. The problem was that Novell’s competitors — namely, Dell, HP, and others — started selling servers running commodity hardware and software (Windows NT). Novell’s solution was more expensive, with little practical benefit. Don’t get me wrong: Novell produced a good product … but it was difficult for them to compete against this juggernaut. It’s the same dynamic that Sun ran into on low end servers (and eventually Apple, on the desktop). As for administration, you can whine and moan about how “real administrators don’t use a GUI” but that’s backwards thinking. NT started taking significant market share away from Novell based on ease-of-use. Nonetheless, Noorda should be remembered for popularizing LANs and WANs.