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Clueless in Provo, Redwood Shores, Lindon, San Mateo …

Jun 19, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsOracle

* Why Novell, Oracle, SCO Group and Siebel are leaders

Some readers think I pick on Novell too much and that I should be more of a cheerleader for the venerable networking company. I do cheer for it when it gets something right, but lately that’s been difficult. Just look at the fiasco over the ownership of the Unix source code copyrights (see story links below) as one example.

In doing research on that Unix issue, I came across an article in Network World that quotes one NetWare loyalist:

Moses Sun has been a loyal NetWare customer for years. A Certified Novell Engineer and Certified Novell Instructor, he makes his living supporting a 20-server NetWare net for the Ocean Drilling Program at Texas A&M University. But Sun is losing faith in Novell, which has dropped products unexpectedly and has repeatedly revamped its strategy. Despite the grand plan Novell trotted out last month to focus on network software integration, Sun said he will probably look elsewhere. “Novell has this basic credibility problem they have to deal with,” he said. “When they say they’re going to do something, the question goes beyond whether they’re going to be late. We’re asking whether they’re going to do it or not. We don’t know.”

What’s really remarkable is that this was written in 1995. (See story link below.) Yet these sentiments could easily have been stated by a NetWare loyalist just last week.

This leads me to propose a new category of software company. The category is defined as essentially clueless organizations that somehow overcome their serious drawbacks and produce applications and software that are at the top of their class. Novell is a prime candidate but number two on the list is probably Oracle, the database company (and occasional Novell partner). Generally speaking, people love Oracle, the database, and hate Oracle, the company.

Other candidates might be the SCO Group (also known as the Grinch who stole Linux) and Siebel Systems (big in customer relationship Management but not stockholder relationship management). Siebel hoped to deflect stockholder criticism of its management practices by having a “Web only” stockholder meeting (“Webcast can’t deliver the whole picture,”

Clueless companies, or companies with clueless management, that nevertheless engender a very loyal following of users (if not stockholders) – with Novell, Oracle, SCO and Siebel as leaders – we could call it the NOSS group. But that doesn’t capture the flavor of this category very well. So here’s your chance to participate in my new competition.

Drop me a note with your candidates for inclusion into this list (along with a short reason why you feel the candidate is clueless). But also suggest a name for this segment of the industry – the Unclued, Clueless in Seattle (and elsewhere), High Tech Low Farce, etc.

The person with the best suggestion (and I’ll be the judge of that) will win a copy of a useful, recently published book on a mutually agreeable high-tech topic, courtesy of Virtual Quill. Send your entry to

All entries become the property of Virtual Quill. None will be returned, not even if you enclose a stamped self-addressed e-mail envelope. The decision of the judge (that’s me) is final. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. The winner will be announced in this newsletter. Deadline to enter is July 1, 2003 – Send in your entry now.