Novell BrainShare: March 18 Recap
As The VAR Guy reflects on the latest news out of BrainShare, one number sticks in his head: More than 700 partners — representing ISVs, integrators, consultants, VARs, etc. — are at the event. Not a bad showing. The VAR Guy connected with Novell’s Channel Chief, Pat Bernard, for more perspective. Here are five key takeaways from the conversation.
1. More Changes Coming: Revamping and enhancing Novell’s channel program likely involves a three-year journey, says Bernard. As the company wraps up year one, it expects year two to involve intense efforts to raise the bar to a new level. By year three, Novell will reach the “tweaking phase” of its partner program. “We are so on track [with our plan] and we know what needs to be done,” crows Bernard.
2. Not A Typical Channel Chief: Despite the upbeat outlook, Bernard doesn’t sound like she’s “pitching” Novell when she talks about partner goals. Rather, she comes across as more of a reserved business strategist. Set some goals, exceed the goals, set some new goals … that pretty much sums up her tone and approach to business.
3. Regional Events Coming?: Many of Novell’s International partners made the trip to Utah. But it sounds like Bernard’s team realizes there’s a need for regional partner events (North America, Europe, etc.). Watch for a decision on that “regional” event approach to surface over the next few months.
4. More Than SuSE Linux Server: During a healthy debate a few weeks ago, Novell Chief Marketing Officer John Dragoon pointed out that the company was more than a server software provider. He indicated that Novell needed to more clearly articulate its momentum in such areas as identity management and security management solutions. Novell solidified that point today, announcing 6,000 customers had embraced those product lines.
5. Microsoft: Novell has only casually mentioned the Redmond giant during this event. That may be a smart move. Whether you’re bullish or bearish about Novell, you already know about the company’s hit-and-miss relationship with the software giant. No need to reinforce the Microsoft brand at your own event.
From his hidden office in New York, The VAR Guy continues to hear reasonably good news from his sources in Utah. One network administrator, representing a major university, says he hasn’t seen Novell this focused and on message since about 1993.
Still, let’s not declare victory for the new Novell. Seven hundred partners is a nice turnout for BrainShare. But the company continues to play catch-up against Red Hat on the server. And markets like identity management remain highly fragmented with multiple small, nimble competitors — along with some big names in the game as well.