Posted on 23 June 2006


A New Novell?

Written by Robert Merrill

Topics: Utah Living



NovellThe news that Novell’s board has promoted Ron Hovsepian as the new CEO brings interesting things to the table for the well-known Provo, Utah software giant. At least one Novell blogger admits looking forward to the change, and what it means for the company.

Interestingly, a poke around the web on Google or Icerocketor technoratishows the company well-represented in the communities and user-groups of the software they promote. It appears, from their website, that they have/had several stand-out engineers there as well.

Geoff Thatcher’s blog “Above C Level” (which gets style points for a cool name) notes the following valuable advice Hovsepian gave at Barcelona Brainshare in 2005:

“When things get tough, it forces you to be creative, to increase performance and productivity, and do it with less money.”

I hope everyone at Novell takes this to heart. Seriously.

And, while analysts praise Novell’s executive changes, and their stock seems to be responding well (+0.11 today as of this writing), some daunting predictions are clearly out there.

Though they’re not the only one, Motley Fool had this wet blanket to toss into the mix today:

With Novell’s NetWare business ebbing –and its open source initiatives failing to get traction– it’s hard to see where the company will find growth. The new CEO, who has 17 years of experience at IBM, can take the short-run moves of cutting costs and perhaps ditching the NetWare business. But as for becoming a viable player in open source, that is likely tocomemuch later –if ever

Personally, I strongly hope Novell can make this shift, get through the next phase, and explode into the supercharged open-source arena. They are a good company with good roots and good technologies. They have attracted (or aquired) smart minds and a large open-source following. Unfortunately, everybody can see that they have been consistenly erroring on the side of great gadgets instead of incredibly happy clients.

Everyone bad-mouths Microsoft for being a marketer instead of a producer of good software (a perception that seems to be changing, by the way), but at the end of the day if you don’t sell your wares, you won’t stay open.

In all, it appears that Hovsepian is a better salesperson than Jack Messman was. At least, that’s what Laurent Lachal, senior analyst at Ovum thinks:

“I went to [Novell's conference] Brainshare, and it was clear that Hovsepian was in charge, not Messman. By comparison Messman was a poor performer in public. At the first day’s press conference, Messman’s performance was the worst I have ever seen in my entire life.”

All in all, for the betterment of the company, Provo & Utah County and for the Open Source community at-large, I hope this shift reveals a tight, nible Novell that can bring value to market–and fast.

Good luck!

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