Will the Real Novell Please Stand Up?

The VAR Guy

April 26, 2007

2 Min Read
Will the Real Novell Please Stand Up?

The VAR Guy didn’t intend to pick on Novell when he woke up this morning. But he has to admit: His eyes rolled back in disbelief when he read TheStreet.com’s story headlined “Novell Turns It Around.” Is this the Novell you all know — or is it merely a financial writer trying to pump up a company that remains in transition?

TheStreet.com claims Novell has done “a great job revitalizing its prospects by focusing on customers’ shift toward open-source software such as Linux.”

Oh, really? Is this the same Novell that in every quarter for more than a year either missed analysts’ targets or made disappointing forecasts? Is this the same Novell where less than 10 percent of annual revenue is actually open source-related? Is this the same Novell that upset the open source community by signing away its soul to Microsoft?

Okay, The VAR Guy is getting carried away. Novell does have promise and its open source business is growing significantly. Plus, several big customers have applauded Novell’s partnership with Microsoft. Wonderful. Clap, clap.

But IT managers, VARs and investors who do their homework know Novell trails Red Hat by a wide margin in the Linux market. It’s sort of like the networking market, where Cisco Systems dominates and some Wall Street pundits continue to talk about a turnaround at Nortel Networks.

Yes, thousands of companies continue to depend on Novell and Nortel. But is Novell really poised for the big turnaround described by TheStreet.com? Did anybody bother to ask the investors who have been waiting… and waiting… and waiting… for Novell to recover from decade-old missteps?

Naturally, Red Hat doesn’t always win and Novell doesn’t always lose. There’s room for Novell to compete and be profitable. Novell’s SuSE Linux, identity management and security businesses are healthy and growing. It’s the other 70 to 80 percent of Novell that has The VAR Guy worried.

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