Novell reports a profit, misses an opportunity

* Novell releases fourth quarter results

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Only three issues of the NetWare Tips Newsletter to go after this one, and based on last week’s “preliminary” financial reports it’s probably a toss-up if Novell will last into the New Year. While the company did report a small profit in its fourth quarter, it was below Wall Street’s expectations and came from revenue well down from the same period last year.

There are also continuing worries about Novell’s possible problems with stock options over the past 10 years which the company continues to investigate. The headline on a Smart Money story probably said it best: “Novell Appears Unwell”.

Interestingly enough, the company blamed “diminishing sales of its NetWare products” for the poor showing. But, let me ask you, if a company was actively discouraging you from buying a product would you insist on it anyway? It’s extremely disingenuous for the company to do everything it can to discourage NetWare sales, then blame the ensuing drop in sales for the poor performance. To me that says it has no viable plan to replace those lost sales.

In other news last week, Novell announced that version 2 of Open Enterprise Server would ship next year. That’s a bit of a delay - not as much as, say, a Microsoft operating system though! The announcement confirmed that there’ll be no more NetWare kernel included but that: “The next version will complete the shift to workgroup services running completely on the Linux platform. Open Enterprise Server 2 will make traditional NetWare workgroup services run on Linux as well or better than they do on NetWare.”

<aside> I’ve always said that “workgroup” and “enterprise” were used to differentiate between software packages (and operating systems) based on the scalability they could handle. Workgroup solutions don’t scale to the enterprise. Could this mean that SuSE Linux doesn’t scale, or is Novell’s marketing just as muddled as ever?</aside>

It would have been fitting, I guess, if OES 2 had shipped on time (this month) so that the end of the NetWare kernel coincided with the end of the NetWare newsletter. I guess it’s just one more in a long list of missed opportunities for Novell.

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