Novell is back. That was the message taken away by delegates at Brainshare, Novell?s global technical conference held in Utah last month. Subsequent press reports in the US were bullish about our prospects and analyst IDC posted a report on its Web site entitled ?Novell Alive and Well!?
The UK press has been a little more reserved in its comments ? in this column there has been negative comment about our last quarterly sales compared with the previous year?s figures. This is predictable, if somewhat frustrating. The safest option, it seems, is to continue to dwell upon the well-documented events of more than a year ago.
Given the divestment of our Wordperfect and USL acquisitions, it comes as no surprise to learn that our headline revenues are down on a direct annual comparison, even with the past two or three years. But take into account the divestments and you will see that Intranetware and NetWare 4.11 sales are up 41 per cent.
But I suspect quarterly figures are not the primary reason for a new attitude towards Novell. Just look at what has been announced and you may begin to understand. Over the past month there have probably been more announcements than in any corresponding period in Novell?s history.
We have clearly restated our business focus. We will not let distractions get in the way of our core networking competence. We have a new CEO, Dr Eric Schmidt ? ?an awesome technologist?, according to Scott McNealy, his former boss at Sun. We have announced Border Services, a product set that takes our traditional strengths and pitches them bang into the centre of the internet arena. We have roadmapped Intranetware, committed to a full IP version within a year, and have aggressively adopted Java technology to take full advantage of Intranetware?s clear superiority as a platform for networked Java applications. We have flagged our Wolf Mountain initiative with, among others, Intel and Oracle, which will deliver clustering on a scale never witnessed before. And we have announced strategic relationships with Sun, Oracle and Netscape, placing Intranetware and NDS at the heart of developing open standards, intranets and network computing.
Against this, the shine is fading on Windows NT. How many NT projects has your company been involved with that, faced with the sheer unmanageability of domains, rapidly overshot budget? How many large companies have you come across that are seriously considering the ?all Microsoft world? that Microsoft?s products seem to demand. How many high-profile corporates have backtracked on their initially well publicised NT projects? Yes, we?re told that Active Directory is going to solve everything. Perhaps. But how long has NT been on the market, how secure is it proving, how scalable is it and how does it network non-NT servers? Maybe in four years? time Active Directory may be as good as NT is today. Now isn?t that something to look forward to?
By contrast, the jewel in Novell?s networking crown, NDS, is proven and has 20 million users today. Our policy of NDS everywhere is coming to fruition. Eleven different Unix OEMs and Hewlett Packard now ship NDS with their Intel servers. Sun anticipates having NDS available this autumn and Oracle is the first application vendor to support the directory. NDS-enabled products will be the source of a whole new stream of revenue both for Novell and our resellers.
Growth is taking off apace. Deutsche Telekom last month became the first European PTT to adopt NDS as the underlying directory for its managed internet services (joining AT&T and NTT). And Wolf Mountain offers a potential platform to deliver a single replicated directory for the internet. At the heart of Intranetware and our forthcoming border services, NDS is a golden thread linking all our products and plans together. This is an opportunity we are not going to miss.
So we?ve gone through our upheavals, but last quarter we shipped more Netware-based server operating systems than at any point in our history. We have a clear message to bring to the industry. It has been said that our message is complicated in the face of simpler ones from our rivals. This is nonsense. Novell means networks. It?s that simple.
Increasing system complexity makes this message of joining together disparate elements and simplifying their administration ever more compelling, whether these elements are on an intranet, the internet, a Wan or a Lan.
Far from seeing the writing on the wall, we?re back and we mean business.
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