Novell seeks to 'dominate' access, Web services

Tough talk about competing against Microsoft, a completely redesigned business plan and a vow to abolish proprietary application programming interfaces (API) highlighted the keynote speech of Novell. Vice Chairman Chris Stone at the company's BrainShare 2002 user conference being held here this week.

Speaking at the Salt Lake City Convention Center, Stone talked about how in the past, Microsoft had engaged in cutthroat pricing, sometimes giving product away in order to grab market share from Novell and its NetWare network operating system.

"It's time we started using the same tactics," Stone said.

Again and again during Stone's speech, the word "dominate" cropped up. He said Novell is positioned to dominate the single sign-on and identity management market and that the company's depth of offerings gives it a chance to achieve domination in the emerging Web services market.

He also promised that Novell would review its entire pricing structure. "It seems every time you turn the lights on, we charge you for something," he said.

Instead, Stone said Novell would look to sell solution sets at a single price rather than using the current payment-for-usage model.

That strategy matches the company's business redesign. Although Novell currently sells 163 different products, it will narrow its offerings and then offer them as solution sets, Stone said. After Novell's acquisition last July of Cambridge, Mass.-based consulting firm Cambridge Technology Partners Inc., Stone said Novell would look to have all of its products "coupled with professional services and consultants."

Stone also underscored an any-to-any philosophy for the company's offerings. As part of a coming enterprise application integration (EAI) play, Novell will eliminate its proprietary APIs and replace them with XML interfaces.

"Give us some time. This isn't going to happen overnight, but it's our direction," Stone said.

He looked at Web services in the EAI space and made it clear that Novell believes it can manage "a distributed application environment sitting in the network" -- which is what Web services are at their core, he said.

Stone also touched on several other topics, including upcoming Java 2 Enterprise Edition and Web services development tools; a new collaboration product combining portal, messaging and identity management tools, called Workspace; and the latest upgrade to Novell's eDirectory.

As for the company's "No. 1 goal" for the coming year, Stone said Novell hopes to create a single interface for all of its products.

More aggressive marketing is also a company focus. Not only did Novell name Debre Bergevine its first-ever chief marketing officer on Friday, but Stone also unveiled a new series of print adds targeting Microsoft, called ".Net? Not Yet."

Stone later introduced a video clip spoof of Microsoft's Windows XP television commercial, in which a child is flying through the air and crashes to the ground when a server crashes.

"I expect to see this all over the Internet in about an hour and a half," he said after the clip ran a second time.

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