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Novell marketing VP talks turkey in last chance saloon

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Interview With Novell entering the last chance saloon, The Register spoke to Steve Adams, Novell's senior VP for Worldwide marketing, at the IDC meeting in Monaco. It's taken only a month from the announcement of a "realignment of expenses" (as staff reductions are euphemistically called) to the formal executions on Monday.

Novell's falter has been put down to a number of factors, the greatest of which has been its inability to capture sufficient mindshare and inadequate internal execution. Novell had found that although it had success with network managers, it was not so well known to CIOs or CEOs. Another reason has also been identified, Adams said: Novell had found it difficult to engage in serious discussion with potential customers without a stronger e-business solution portfolio. It was not that Windows 2000 was storming ahead, Adams claimed, since in competitive situations, Novell did tend to take the mindshare - as did Novell's full-service directory against Active Directory.

In a move to boost e-business, Novell retained IDC to advise it and has just launched a worldwide eBusiness Security Initiative. It also turns out that Novell's oneNet vision does appear to fit with the next broad phase of Internet business, which is expected to be centred on electronic relationships and eCommunities. Novell is hoping to demonstrate that its security offerings are relevant and appropriate for organisations that have hesitated to commit fully to an eBusiness strategy. IDC VP Pim Bilderbeek suggested that security should be viewed more as a competitive advantage than an insurance policy. Novell's pitch, it seems, is going to be that it provides trusted business platforms.

Novell's financial planning calls for separate profit and loss statements for the three product groups that make up Novell's oneNet (net management, net directory, and net content), but the situation is not likely to improve radically for 6-9 months, Adams said.

During Novell's golden days, Ray Noorda - a great believer in the natural pulling power of the better mousetrap - was reluctant to spend anything on advertising. With a saving of some $20 million after the costs of this round of staff reduction, Adams said it had been decided to launch later this month a major media campaign, with television, radio, print, and online media to raise awareness of the brand name Novell, rather than NetWare. "After all," Adams remarked, "How many people can name five Cisco products?" ®

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