Novell CEO reveals plan for growth

After resuscitating Novell and putting it back in the black in his first year at the helm, Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO of the revitalised company, is laying the groundwork for long-term profitability and growth.

Fondly called "The doctor" by company executives and employees, Schmidt's miracle cure for Novell this year includes his vision of computing, which is characterised by strong doses of the Internet, networks and directory-based products.

"In my first year, I've focused on cutting costs and delivering products," Schmidt said. "Those were all done. Moving forward, the most important thing is the vision for computing: the use of the Internet in corporations and directory messaging. It's important to focus on new generation Internet-based software that run the networks of the world."

Schmidt, who was in Singapore last month as one of the co-chairmen of the Seventh East Asia Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum, shared his plans for Novell with a group of Asian IT journalists.

There are a number of phases in Schmidt's game plan: first, the company will work to remain the network operating system (NOS) leader through good management and products. Second, it will create a solid networking architecture based on NetWare and TCP/IP and develop sets of applications unique to those. Long-term, Schmidt added, Novell will build directory tools to bundle messaging, Internet and networks.

Schmidt said Novell has no intention to rival Microsoft's marketing machine, but instead will do the following while it has a window of opportunity:

* Ship good products on time,

* Make customers happy,

* Develop a networking architecture on NetWare and TCP/IP, and* Gain new users interested in network computing.

In addition, Schmidt said the company will try to get more companies to standardise on Novell's directory-based products to manage their networks.

While Schmidt said Novell faces competition solely from Microsoft, his strategy is to move away from direct competition through technology and product differentiation. "We have two-thirds of the NOS server market and 93 per cent of the directory market is ours," he said.

He admitted, however, that leadership in the application server market is not Novell's.

Still, he said, Novell "stands proud and tall today" with 80 million NetWare servers deployed worldwide, and opportunities for growth are good.

"I'm an optimist about networking. The networks built by humanity have always worked. Networks change the world. The analogies are almost perfect in the Internet. It's an idea much bigger than any company," he said.

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