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Novell to be married off?

Nov 06, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsIBM

* Is IBM Novell's suitor?

Once again, it’s time for rumors about Novell’s potential acquisition by another technology vendor to rear up. And once again, IBM seems to be the front-runner.

For at least the past 10 years, IBM has been rumored to be just about to take over Novell. Generally, the speculation comes sometime during the fall and rarely is there any hard evidence offered.

This time, the speculation appears to have been started by people with way too much time on their hands reading far more than was intended into an announcement of a joint road show by the two companies.

The two companies will tour 20 cities from Nov. 5-13 as part of the Novell and IBM Linux Solutions seminar ( While Novell and IBM have done a number of joint seminar tours in the past few years, it would appear that the sheer number of programs (approximately three per day) has lent fuel to the fire.

Novell is also participating in HP’s “Real World Linux” series of shows (, which will visit 17 countries (all outside the U.S.). But that doesn’t seem to be raising any rumors about Carly Fiorina moving to Waltham (or Chris Stone migrating to the West Coast).

There are a number of ex-Digital Equipment people in Novell’s Waltham office, though. And Digital was acquired by Compaq, which was in turn bought by HP, so you’d think that synergy would keep the rumors flowing. Yet, it always seems to be IBM’s name that surfaces whenever the topic of Novell being acquired crops up.

A lot of this behavior can be chalked up to old timers (like myself, I’ll admit) who remember when Novell often partnered with IBM as a counterweight to Microsoft. But nowadays the Redmond Monolith and Big Blue are more often acting in concert rather than in competition. IBM draws a hefty amount of revenue from sales of Microsoft software and the accompanying service contracts.

Linux is the thread that ties together Novell, IBM, HP, SuSE, Red Hat and others. IBM doesn’t need any technology or expertise from Novell in order to implement its Linux strategy, so the rumors will remain just that.

On the other hand, Novell is making a lot of noise in the Linux community without actually having a Linux distribution to work with, develop to or sell service contracts for. While sniffing around at the IBM-Novell rumors I picked up some strong whiffs of another Novell acquisition that might be in the offing soon – a Linux vendor and not one in Utah. Stay tuned.