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The Forseeable Death of Novell and Their Products

By Why Me Worry? ·
When I first started out in my career over 10 years ago, Novell as a company was strong and having a CNE certification was something to be proud of and well respected in the industry and among the I.T. community. Granted, it was a very rigorous and tough curriculum, but I made it and achieved the level of CNE with proficiency in Netware 3.x all the way to Netware 6.5 being used today. Anyhow, Novell as a company makes good products for the enterprise and has a large customer base among both gov't and prive firms all over the world, but they are seriously lacking in the marketing area and don't know how to sell their products effectively. Microsoft on the other hand has a very strong and effective marketing team and sells their products quite well, even though it is well known that Windows is bug ridden and Microsoft has yet to fully make a secure product worthy of calling secure. Novell has been preaching to the choire and not targeting the proper audience, thus suffering in their ability to expand to new markets. I have written to Novell and expressed my concerns as a CNE that their failure to properly promote and market their products to new customers and markets is potentially damaging to them as well as to the careers of millions of CNEs' and CNAs' out in the field. My complaints fell on death ears as they just can't seem to get it right. They came out with a few cheesy TV commercials, but unless you already knew who they were or what they were all about, you were left asking yourself "what the **** was that and what are they selling?". The problem is that Netware today is no longer the legacy file/print server it once was and can now handle streaming media and web services, but Novell keeps marketing it as a file/print server to their own dismay. It's also funny because Novell is located in Provo, Utah, and consists of predominantly Mormon employees, and if they marketed their products as well as they run around shoving their religion down the throats of others, they would not be in such a bad shape. Microsoft has the upper hand, and even the firm I work for has decided to terminate its relationship with Novell after 10+ years of being an MLA customer and go all Windows/Exchange 2003 instead of mixed Windows 2000/Netware 6 with eDirectory. Our decision to dump Novell was based on business needs because GroupWise is not very popular or even supported among third party sofware developers for wireless devices, and the first mention of Novell or GroupWise gets a very poor reaction from vendors and developers who quickly hang up the phone. Alot of is is bias towards Novell and their products, but a lot of is is Novell's own doing because they are not doing enough to entice development or partnerships with 3rd party companies and alienating themselves and many of their customers who need GroupWise to be compatible with wireless devices like Blackberries and PDAs'.

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Novell History; Oh, for the good ole days

by JohnMcGrew In reply to The Forseeable Death of N ...

I've been a Novell devotee since the beginning, when installing a server meant figuring out address conflicts on cards with dip-switches, and shoving and removing 360K 5-1/4 floppies for hours on end. Once you got it up, it ran, and ran, and ran. My favorite version had to be the rock-solid 3 series. The only reasons it would go down was for a lack of power, or because the hardware finally screamed uncle. It?s no exaggeration to say that I had servers that literally stayed up for years. The only reason they didn?t stay up longer was for preemptive hard disk changes.

Then Novell got distracted. First, they couldn?t decide on a consistent driver/client philosophy. Then they couldn?t decide how to price upgrades. Every time I had to quote a new system or upgrade seemed like an entirely new and tiring experience. Then, when they saw where Microsoft was going with Office, they decided to buy the Word Perfect line, and then subsequently destroy it, along with flushing how many hundreds of millions in cash and shareholder value. The reality was that the writing was on the wall a decade ago. The spent most of the ?90s coasting on their reputation.

In the meantime, Microsoft saw to it that the IT community was flooded with ?certified? MS networking engineers. Most of couldn?t configure their way out of a paper bag, but were educated enough to know how to open the box, insert the setup CD, and click ?next? when the install wizard told them to do so. These people were quickly absorbed by the economy during the dot-con boom, and before long due solely to their numbers were influencing purchasing decisions. It became obvious that companies were going to buy what their people knew, which was inevitably going to be Windows. And since most were now using Windows on their desktops, it seemed to make sense. To these people, ?stability? meant going 24 hours instead of 24 minutes without a reboot, as at the time Windows95 was about that much more ?stable? than Windows 3.1 was.

After totally screwing up it?s Word Perfect acquisition, Novell finally figured out that they didn?t want to be an desktop application company anymore and sold what was left of it for pennies on the dollar. By the time the dust was clearing from that mess, they started to realize that they were loosing grip on their formerly solid network user base. Their answer to that problem, and to the newly minted army of MSCEs pushing for Windows-based networks, was to put a completely worthless graphical shell over Netware version 5. Yeah, that would do it.

Not. Not only was Netware becoming less bulletproof, their user base was resisting upgrading. (I had users on V3 as late as 2000) Yes, NDS was far superior to Active Directory in many ways, but it was too late. After that, they totally lost direction and have been drifting ever since. As more and more decision makers sensed this, it became harder and harder to justify staying, especially when confronted with Microsoft?s comparatively glitzy marketing, and the seemingly endless supply of inexpensive MSCEs.

Now, it seems as though Novell?s last-ditch strategy is to hitch what?s left of its wagons to the Linux train. Will it work? Too soon to tell. My guess is that Novell will only survive as a niche player.

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Such a pity.......

by davidfacer In reply to The Forseeable Death of N ...

I too hae over 15 years experience in Novell networking, having completed a Computer Operator course (Australian Army), Computer Controller course (advanced Netware), CNE, CNA and update courses to version 6. When I first started in the private sector one could pick and choose the jobs taken on, but over time Novell have shot themselves in the foot too many times - and have priced themselves out of the market share they USED to have. They were too slow to release products that administrators were demanding.....too slow to release products end-users were demanding, and not providing any form of documentation to support their product. Novell had 85% of the networked market share when I started, now they would be lucky to have 10%. I made a BIG mistake not dual-hatting to MCSE, but financial considerations restricted me in this side, and now it really hurts. Ghost (and similar products) has killed off the desktop support roles, and IT has taken such a downer in this country that I have had to re-train to earn a living.....what a waste of around $80,000 of formal Netware training! Yes, lousy marketing has been their BIGGEST stuff-up.

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Novell's dilemma has no solution now!

by jattas In reply to The Forseeable Death of N ...

Having worked with Novell software since the mid 1980's, I think I am qualified to comment on the real demise of Novell. The software has always been quite reliable and secure. It puts microsoft to shame. However, Novell is guilty of what many companies who got to the top are guilty of. They let it go to their heads, and became very arogant with both user requirements, pricing, and conditions of sale. These issues turned off many future users and forced them to look more seriously at other products. Along came Microsoft, with what looked like resonable replacement software, and it took off. Novell still refused to change it's ways and find methods of marketing that the public would accept. Voila, no demand for Novell. I would predict the same demise of Microsoft, except that they have adjusted their techniques over time, and created a demand for their products that has made them No. 1 in their business. In this business, you have to get the developers on your side. Novell has not been able to do this. That is their major failure. Many of us rue the day that Novell created the certification program. They made more money on certification than they did on product and started a trend that exists today in other companies.

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