I had the opportunity to talk with Dave Wilkes, Vice President Engineering for Novell.
Gert: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Dave: I have been with Novell since 1991 working in various engineering roles focused on Novell global brands such as NetWare, Open Enterprise Server, GroupWise and ZENworks.
Based in our Provo, UT headquarters, my core focus is on driving development and innovation efforts at Novell and leading the engineering teams for our collaboration, endpoint management, and file and networking services technologies.
Prior to Novell, I worked for just over six years at Hewlett Packard as a software engineer. I graduated with a BS in Computer Science and a minor in Math from Brigham Young University in 1985.
Gert: Development and innovation are some of the keywords for your tasks at Novell. How does this affect GroupWise and collaboration? Where can we see this or its results?
Dave: Actually, I'd cast our current focus as a return to our development roots. This means delivering solid, reliable technology our customers can count on.
We’re refocusing on product quality and basing innovation on real customer needs, not just what market watchers or industry pundits think is key. We're also planning more frequent product releases so customers get real benefit from their maintenance dollars. This is where we're focused at a Novell level in general, and as a collaboration team specifically.
Gert: Where does your work for GroupWise and collaboration meet the other executives? What is a typical "that's something to ask Dave..."?
Dave: Good question. I’ve had a LOT of opportunities to discuss this since the acquisition by The Attachmate Group. The company leadership is very keen on looking for opportunities to re-engage with our collaboration customers.
One of the first questions was, “How soon can we all get on GroupWise?” We are actively working to move our Attachmate and NetIQ colleagues on GroupWise. In a recent meeting with Jeff Hawn, he indicated that one of the largest, private software companies in the world has just standardized on GroupWise – and that’s us!!”
Gert: One of your working areas is the engineering teams for collaboration, endpoint management, and file and networking services. Where do engineering and collaboration find its challenges for Novell? Is there a future map already?
Dave: Our greatest engineering challenge across the board is also our greatest opportunity and priority- engaging with our customers at an intimate level to understand what their most pressing needs are, and delivering on that understanding quickly and effectively.
We are engaged in a number of internal efforts to do this. This work will drive a refresh of our product roadmaps, which will feature more of the capabilities our customers want in a release cadence that is far more aggressive than we've had in the past.
Roadmap details for each of these products will be showcased at our October BrainShare user conference in Salt Lake City and at GWAVACon in Munich during the same timeframe.
Gert: You have experience with off-shore sourcing and cross-team collaboration. Is Novell using these as a way to organize its work in the future? For example, does this have challenges as in working cross-border and cross-time zones? Will customers experience this anyhow?
Dave: We have engaged in off-shore and near-shore development efforts in the past, and we will continue to leverage the experience these teams have built over the last few years. However, we are also investing in headcount for our R&D teams in Provo, Utah--the new headquarters for Novell.
We view our job as building quality products that our customers want and delivering those in a timely fashion. If we do it right, whatever our mix of on-site and off- or near-shore development we use to achieve that goal should be completely transparent to our customers.
Gert: You have been working with Novell before Attachmate acquired Novell. What is a significant change and/or improvement since that moment? For Novell and for customers.
Dave: The most significant change has been the increased focus on and commitment to our existing customer base. Over the years, Novell grew its portfolio beyond the core of what made it strong in the beginning.
We are now back to focusing on what we do best: serving customers with world-class collaboration, file and networking services and endpoint management software. I’m talking about Novell GroupWise, Open Enterprise Server, ZENworks and Vibe product lines.
I am excited by the internal momentum I see building for these products and even more excited for that momentum to drive real benefits to our customers.
Gert: Is there a different approach to GroupWise and collaboration in the EMEA market from that in the US market?
Dave: From a product engineering standpoint we pride ourselves in “sim shipping” in many, many languages. By sim shipping, I mean we simultaneously ship support for all languages.
This requires significant work during the entire development cycle to ensure that the UI is localized AND that the software can handle data in any language.
We have a QA team in China that ensures our software is enabled to handle the data. Then we have a localization team in Ireland that works very closely with our development teams around the world to get the software UI and documentation localized before we ship.
Gert: Are you visible for customers and how? What can we expect to read or hear/say from you? Will you attend BrainShare and GWAVACon or Open Horizons events?
Dave: I will definitely be at BrainShare this year! In fact, I’ll be part of the Novell keynote on Friday of BrainShare!
Also, I have been a speaker at GWAVACon and look forward to many other opportunities to meet with customers and partners.
Gert: Dave, tnx for this interview. Keep up the good work.
Dave ...Thanks, Gert. I really appreciate the opportunity!
© GWCheck.com september 2011
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