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It Depends on Whom You Ask


June 23, 2006 5:31 pm





I was struck by the juxtaposition of two articles reporting on the news of Ron Hovsepian’s move to the CEO job this week. This article from eWeek reported a conversation with an industry analyst from Gartner who felt, in general, that the move was a strong one for Novell. This article from, negative in tone, was based largely on comments from a different industry analyst from the Yankee Group. Pretty divergent opinions, obviously. How do you know whom to believe? Obviously, the value of an industry analyst comes from his or her expertise in the subject matter, knowledge of a company’s strategy, and familiarity with the management team. The Gartner analyst is someone who knows Novell well, attends our conferences, and meets with management. The Yankee analyst hasn’t been in a briefing with Novell in roughly three years. You can see the difference. To you press out there, we have relationships with a wide range of industry analysts who know us well. If you’re looking for commentary on Novell, we can provide a long list of analysts who follow Novell closely. I’d encourage you to tap these folks for future reference and avoid analysts whose perception of Novell is locked in a fairly distant past.By the way, Gartner and IDC have both posted initial assessments of the Hovsepian promotion on their web sites, available for a limited time to the public. IDC is here. Gartner is here.

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  1. By:Doug N

    Mr Lowry,
    I’m sure you remember my post about, “Messman must go”. Well, needless to say, I’m thrilled that Messman and the CFO are history! They had plenty of time to get Novell on the right track, and failed. I truly feel that Mr. Hovsepian has what it takes to get Novell back on track as a leader. We needed someone younger like him, with lots of enthusiasm, and experience. If Novell can get their act together with marketing their EXCELLENT offerings, we’d have a great company here that people would respect. This is basically Novell’s last chance. I hope Mr. Hovsepian has what it takes to turn Novell around. Only time will tell, and we don’t have too much left if we want to be the leader.

  2. Messman and the CFO leaving is a good sign, but Novell’s troubles go much, much deeper than that.

    The CEO can only do so much with regards to choosing a direction (albeit, I completely disagreed with his p-poor decision to kill NetWare), but it’s the underlings who must then execute on that direction.

    They are just as much to blame as anyone. A General can’t march for the soldiers, and can’t do much for soldiers who refuse to follow orders in a manner expected of them.

    Hovespian needs to perform his own “Top-Down Rebuild”, and NOT just cut jobs. Re-supply the channel with more Novell Sales folks who can handle the territory better. Re-start NetWare. Offer more training at a more reasonable price. Find a way to make the Certifications mean something again. Fire the entire Marketing Department and start over.

    If you MUST stick with Linux, find a better way to distinguish SUSE from the other 350 distributions and give a reason why Novell should be chosen over Red Hat, Ubuntu, CentOS, etc.

    Hiring me as a business consultant wouldn’t be a bad move, either. 😉

  3. By:John Yorke

    Always the comedian. Re-start Netware… good one.

    Better marketing is definitely required, a training program and certification that fits in with the Linux OES strategy is required, figuring out how value can be added to Groupware so it can compete against the increasing number of mail and collaboration products out there is required (e.g. third party tie-ins, collaboration, workflow, security, identity management, etc.), and finally making the rest of the Novell tools currently on Netware available on Linux OES (e.g. Border Manager, eDirectory on Linux missing pieces, in place upgrades) and currently on Windows available on SLED (e.g. Groupwise Client enhancements). Marketing should definitely improve though… with SLES10, SLED10, and OES2 on the way it is important to make sure the world knows about these products. Despite the fact the general public doesn’t buy from Boeing or Bombardier (only large companies do) I have seen their TV ads, but I haven’t ever seen a Novell TV ad. With the small business solutions available from Novell it is important to increase visibility to normal small business owners that don’t read IT magazines.

  4. By:Steve Krogh

    Delivering stand alone, distinctly and highly useful products such as Digital Me and I-Folder prominently branded as coming from Novell would garner valuable mind share even if the bottom line was not directly impacted.In addition to such missed opportunities to make the company visible the previous crew could not even bring passive returns from the cash stash home to shareholders-they and the BOD still saw fit to reward themselves with prince’s salaries and ten cent options. Hope we stakeholders do better under current management.

  5. it works both ways. why not do more outreach to smaller, “outlier” firms – to ensure we *are* regularly briefed, and get to know management, rather than just saying “what Gartner said”..

    all that said – given we recently called out some remarks by Hovsepian we may not be top of your briefing list

  6. By:j ark

    ” . . . cry out loud what you have . . .”

    Unfortunately, in my opinion, Chris Stone has been on the right way but he had to leave the company.

  7. I contacted two entirely different analysts and they had similiar views to Yankee. I think there is something to be said for analysts that are briefed by Novell and ones that actually see what clients are buying and using.

  8. By:John Yorke

    The difference is forcasting versus reporting the current conditions. The current conditions are easy to report by looking at what clients are buying and using. Figuring out what clients might be buying two years from now requires knowing more than simply what is being bought today. That said all analysts should be viewed with some skepticism since they might have been sold on marketing that potential customers might never see or might not be convinced by. In any case, knowing what Novell’s plans are and getting a feel for how those plans will be executed provides valuable insight into what will be delivered by Novell in the future. An analyst which sees the sales channel, marketing strategy, and product development plans should be able to better understand the potential of Novell than someone reading past financial statements and yesterday’s news.


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