After a brief alliance with the direct sales model, Novell is now cementing its relationship with channel partners in order to deliver on a busy product and services road map which includes the rollout of Open Enterprise Server (OES) and new versions of Groupwise.
Here in Singapore, one if its first moves in this direction was to strengthen its channel infrastructure with the appointment of Ingram Micro as its value added distributor before the launch of OES here.
Ernest Low (left), Novell's country manager, Asean South, acknowledged that the company had lost a bit of traction in the earlier part of the decade when it moved into direct mode. "The channel infrastructure became a bit shaky and loyalty was diminished."
But this is being addressed with the appointment of Ingram Micro as well as Platinum solution partners such as CSAA, Elipva and UIC ACS, said Low. Technology partners include Resolvo, Scalable Systems, e-opensource Solution, LGA Telecom, TEC Singapore Electronics, Zara Technology, Office1 and Netbase Technologies. In all, there are 88 active Novell PartnerNet members in Singapore.
A strong channel infrastructure will give Novell a firmer foundation from which to roll out new products such as OES, said Low.
In March this year, the launch of OES sent out the signal that "Netware is not dead". The dual-kernel OES layers Novell's file and print, identity management and security services on top of a NetWare or SuSE Linux kernel.
OES gives customers a choice, said Low. It gives Novell's large base of NetWare users a migration path to open source Linux. When users deploy OES, they can decide which services will run on which kernel.
"You shouldn't break the business whatever you run in your organization," said Low.
Another key prong in Novell's strategy for the future is identity and asset management.
This involves the provisioning of assets and systems in a secured manner and providing support for identity tracking.
Novell's identity management suite includes eDirectory, a high-end directory service that allows businesses to manage identities and security access for employees, customers and partners; Nsure Identity Manager which automates changes to user access rights, passwords and profiles, streamlining administration and reducing costs; and Nsure SecureLogin, is a single sign-on solution.
According to Low, one driver for identity management is the push for better corporate governance, which governments and corporations are looking to because of what had happened to Worldcom and Enron, and because of legislation such as the Sarbannes Oxley Act which followed in the aftermath.
In other key product developments, Novell recently announced a new version of its ZENworks systems management suite that is designed to offer full life cycle management for Linux and Windows systems. ZENworks 7 lets companies centrally manage Windows and Linux workstations from their choice of server platforms. It uses Policy-Driven Automation to automatically maintain and enforce business and IT policies and manage resources based on user and device identities. The suite provides integrated tools that automate IT management processes across the life cycle of desktops, laptops, servers, and handheld devices.
Last month, it also unveiled a tool focused on licence management, software inventory and software usage. ZENworks Asset Management, the result of Novell's acquisition of Tally Systems, allows IT administrators to ensure compliance to licences by inventorying the software installed on a network.
Novell has also announced long-term plans for its GroupWise collaboration product and plans for a major update to OES.