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Novell rejigs self, waves bye to CTO

Four units squeezed into two

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NetWare and Linux operating system seller Novell has been trying to expand into other markets since the late 1980s, and it has reorganized so many times it is hard to keep track. Today, the company did it again, saying that effective January 1, it would be consolidating from four different business units down to two.

With today's reorganization, Novell's Open Platform Solutions (OPS) unit - which is where its SUSE Linux and Open Enterprise Server NetWare-SLES hybrid lives - are being combined with the Identity and Security Management (ISM) unit and the Systems and Resource Management (SRM) unit to create the Security, Management, and Operating Platform (SMOP) business.

Jim Ebzery, who has been running the ISM unit as senior vide president and general manager, is now holding those same titles at the SMOP business unit. Markus Rex, the long-time top Linux techie at SUSE and then Novell and currently the acting general manager of the OPS unit, will continue to be general manager of the open products at Novell, but will report to Ebzery.

The second Novell business unit is called Collaboration Solutions, and it is being headed up by Colleen O'Keefe, who is currently senior vice president of Novell's Global Services line. It is a bit of a mystery why Novell is lumping together collaboration products with services.

Joe Wagner, who used to run the SRM unit, is now SVP and general manager of global alliances, and he will be working to sell Novell's partners on the Intelligent Workload Management mashup of products that the company announced last week. Basically, Novell is taking bits and pieces of many of its products and trying to turn them into an integrated stack of tools for managing internal physical and virtual servers and external cloud computing resources. Susan Heystee, who has been vice president and general manager of global strategic partners at Novell, now reports to Wagner.

Ebzery, O'Keefe, and Wagner will report directly to Novell's president and chief executive officer, Ron Hovsepian. Ebzery and O'Keefe will be responsible for product development and strategy within their two business units. (Which makes you wonder what Rex really has power to do with the Linux lineup).

As part of the reorganization, Roger Levy, senior vice president of strategic development and formerly the general manager of the SUSE Linux business at Novell, is leaving the company. Jeff Jaffe, a former researcher at IBM and Bell Labs who was hired to be an executive vice president and CTO for Novell in November 2005, will stay on as "strategic advisor" to Hovsepian, but on February 1, 2010, he will be leaving the company.

"This reorganization is designed to transform Novell into a more focused, integrated and agile global company that will quickly capture a leadership position in the Intelligent Workload Management market," explained Hovsepian in a statement.

"Consolidating into two business units will accelerate the ability of our talented executive team to execute on our IWM strategy while continuing to drive new opportunities in the collaboration market. The new Global Alliances organization will help make sure we develop our growing network of strategic partners as we seek to gain leadership in the markets we serve."

People really do talk like this. And when they do, they don't really explain what their thinking is. Or maybe they do. Decide for yourself which is scarier.

Novell's old way of breaking itself into lines of business with their own profit and loss statements made sense, and hopefully, the company will continue to provide detailed information even with the consolidation of business units. It will be interesting to see if this reorganization is really about avoiding difficult comparisons in 2010 and beyond. ®

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