Confident Novell struts in DENIM
Coming soon, medallion?
Analysis Novell, known for its nifty widgets and poor marketing, may just have a shot at turning itself around with its new corporate marketing plan called oneNet, which was unveiled at Brainshare in Salt Lake City this week. Behind the scenes there has been a major reorganisation and at least a partial resolution of the two-valley cultural divide between Silicon Valley and Happy Valley in Utah. This year's Brainshare seems to have more product announcements than any previous meeting, and there's even optimism that the products will make it to market without going too far off the roadmap. Novell has a new architectural model called DENIM - not the stuff from Nimes in France (de Nimes, geddit?), but a Directory Enabled Net Infrastructure Model. DENIM has three Web-centric components: management, content, and portal services. A key intention is to help the channel to morph from being just resellers to Web integrators and e-business solution providers. Curiously, DENIM is said to be a code-name, which is puzzling since Novell claims a service mark for it and it would be foolish to rename an architecture too quickly. Novell still has a great deal to learn about product naming: amongst the new widgets presented were "InstantMe" for its instant messaging system, developed in association with AOL, and "DirXML" for a component of eDirectory. They just don't roll off the tongue. CEO Eric Schmidt said after his brief Brainshare keynote that "contrary too rumours", NetWare was growing and that net services would remain at the core of Novell's product line. Phase one of Schmidt's turnaround was the launch of NetWare 5 last September, while phase two was growth based on Novell's traditional business model. Phase three is now in progress, and includes the exploitation of intranet services, NDS growth, and eDirectory for NetWare, Solaris and Windows, and soon for Linux and Tru64. Compaq CEO Michael Capellas was on hand to give a Compaq pitch and confirm that Compaq would indeed port NDS to Tru64 for Alpha processors. Compaq already licences Novell's Internet caching system. Novell's alignment of its marketing and product development follows Schmidt's decision some months ago to fire his marketing department and put in place "executives who I trust", to replace the five who departed. The svp of global marketing is Steve Adams, best-known for his "Why Novell's marketing sucks" analysis. His right-hand man, Dave Shirk, has around 30 Tiger Teams reporting directly, with the possibility of termination for any not achieving targets. It seems that Adams will increasingly be Novell's front man, with Schmidt being the strategist. Novell is also looking at new product categories, particularly Internet-related areas that are still in an embryonic stage, including e-commerce infrastructure, personal identity control, policy-based management, cache management, and public key security. The company hasn't just turned itself around: it seems to have become taller, with its share price zooming up since December, settling around the $30 mark after having touched $40. There's no sign of Windows 2000 having hurt Novell's share price yet, despite Microsoft's long-term antagonism. Although Sun and Oracle still figure high on Microsoft's hit list, Novell is back up there again, as it was in 1991 when Jim Allchin emailed Bill Gates: "We must slow down Novell... We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger". Again, Allchin wrote in 1993: "These guys are really good; they have an installed base; they have a channel; they have marketing power; they have good products. and they want our position. They want to control the APIs, middleware, and as many desktops as they can in addition to the server market they already own. We need to start thinking about Novell as the competitor to fight against... this is war-nothing less... they will eventually find a way to hurt us badly." The measure of the degree of hurt will be seen in Novell's results, and the speed of the take-up of Windows 2000. ®
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