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Why Novell should take note of small ISVs

May 22, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Smaller independent software vendors could help extend the life of NetWare

Novell has had an on-off, love-hate relationship with small independent software vendors for as long as I’ve been aware of the company (almost 20 years). For that matter, Novell has had the same relationship with midsize and larger vendors – all the way up to Microsoft, the biggest of them all.

A dozen years ago, I spearheaded a project to bring support to ISVs online when Novell followed up its successful launch of NetWire on CompuServe with a similar “NovDev” forum just for independent developers. That program went through numerous changes and eventually became moribund before being revived as the Developer Support forums ( at the Novell Web site. Yet when the forum software crashed and burned last week, it appeared there was no backup, no failover, no way to recover the questions and answers that had been previously posed. That’s not a good advertisement for a company that wants to be your enterprise backbone.

I’d also heard that a couple of old friends, long-time ISVs for Novell, had passed on this year’s BrainShare because they thought the company was giving short shrift to smaller vendors as it chased the bigger names (IBM, Sun, HP, etc.) in hopes of making a big splash.

On the other hand, at least when it comes to NetWare, I’ve seen Novell lend a hand to some small but loyal businesses. Take for example the inclusion of Blue Lance’s LT Auditor with NetWare 6.5 (see links below) as well as the use of Portlock Software’s storage manager product to build the “Digital Airlines” demo, which was so successful with NetWare 6 that it’s also included with NetWare 6.5.

 Now it could be that the days of the small, independent software companies are numbered. All technologies (automobiles, telephones, radio-TV, movies, etc.) go through an initial proliferation of entrepreneurs followed by a long, but inevitable, consolidation of producers. There are still niches to be filled, though, and the small ISVs are just the folks to be able to fill them. Since NetWare itself appears to be on the road to “niche-dom”, it would behoove Novell, I think, to pursue the small ISVs that could successfully extend the life of the NOS by creating specialty products for specialty industries that need the flexibility, scalability and robustness that only NetWare can provide.