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The new Novell

By , Network World
October 04, 2011 11:47 AM ET

Network World - Novell, which was acquired by The Attachmate Group in April, wants to regain its status as an IT icon and will try to do so by focusing its efforts on its core assets and rebuilding relationships with its huge installed base. Network World Editor in Chief John Dix recently caught up with Novell President Bob Flynn and VP of Product Management and Marketing Eric Varness for a briefing on their rebuilding plans.

What was The Attachmate Group's interest in Novell?

FLYNN: Several things, but a little history first. Attachmate was acquired back in 2005 by a set of equity firms and was merged with a competitor, WRQ, and my boss, Jeff Hawn, who was CEO of Attachmate, was installed as CEO.

The strategy as stated back then was twofold. One, we wanted to grow the business both organically as well as through acquisition, looking to build a billion dollar company over time. The billion dollar mark was based on our belief that size matters in the technology industry. We felt we needed to be that size so customers, particularly enterprise level customers, had confidence in the company they were doing business with. The other part of the strategy was to focus on IT operations, on solutions that help IT organizations better manage their businesses.

So we purchased NetIQ in 2006 for its systems and security management technology, and last April acquired Novell for its fit with this IT operations focus. Then we realigned some of the Novell assets.

We felt the SUSE business could accelerate in terms of market share against Red Hat if we provided a singular view on that business, so we broke SUSE out and reestablished it as an independent business in Nuremberg, Germany. Then we took some elements out of the Novell portfolio around identity and security management and moved those to the NetIQ business, augmenting and extending that portfolio.

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And the Novell business which Eric and I oversee is focused on: collaboration, which really entails the GroupWise products; file and network services, which is where NetWare/Open Enterprise Server fit in; and endpoint management, which is the ZENworks products.

We felt these products were underserved and that we had an enormous opportunity to re-energize that business under the Novell banner. After all, we already have a large customer base in place.

You're now looking at a $400 million dollar business fully focused on this set of products and we're making investments. We're investing in our engineering organization, and we're in the process of establishing a sales organization that really did not exist in Heritage Novell. So some fairly standard blocking and tackling to really accelerate these products in the marketplaces.

Can you expand on your comment about the sales organization?

FLYNN: Heritage Novell had a strong channel influence, which we want to retain, but the direct sellers were selling across the entire portfolio and were largely motivated to generate new license sales. So we're establishing a sales force that is compensated on their ability to develop or re-establish relationships with customers, to make sure customers are getting the full value out of these technologies.

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