Novell CEO picking his battles

Users agree with company’s plan to create infrastructure services, but see short-term issues that need answers

Hints of success were also evident in Novell's 2008 fiscal first quarter earnings that showed a 65 per cent revenue increase in its open platform division that includes SUSE Linux desktop and server. In addition, net income hit US$16.8 million, a significant turnaround from the US$19.5 million loss Novell posted in the same quarter a year ago.

"[Fossa] is not a far-flung dream," Hovsepian says. "It is a lot of reality; it is our core competencies. We are just tying them together. We have to look at the market segments and we have to attach ourselves to those markets."

Hovsepian may be on to something as Fossa, which Novell admits is in the vision stage and might not fully bloom until 2012, is getting a warm reception nonetheless from the company's users.

Those users see Novell regaining its balance and pointing in the right direction, albeit with a few corrections needed in the short term such as fostering the education of more certified Linux engineers.

"We are interested in Fossa not because of the open source, but because of the concept that the whole environment should be dynamic and intelligent enough to handle user needs, and to see it all integrated in a way that includes compliance and security," says Pepijn Visser, program manager for corporate operations and information services at ING Group. Visser is using Novell's Identity Manager to help synchronize 120,000 user identities spread across multiple disparate systems.

"Novell's consistent strategy means a lot to me from an open source perspective," says Mark Shackelford, vice president of information services for Baldor Electric, a manufacturer of industrial electric motors, power transmission products, drives and generators.

Hovsepian says Novell is first a network infrastructure company and will use Linux to keep customers and attract new ones. The next step is to supply those users with technologies such as virtualization, identity, and policy enforcement to build out their platforms, or to ensure interoperability with their existing infrastructure.

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