Novell pressed to bolster image

Ailing technology provider Novell has a strong e-business strategy and product line up, but the company still faces an image problem, according to users and analysts.

At its BrainShare 2001 event in Salt Lake City, Novell made a number of product announcements related to e-business and began outlining its strategy to rebound from declining profits and massive layoffs.

Novell executives claimed that One Net, its strategy of tying heterogeneous intranets and extranets together using Novell's directory and security technology, is paying off.

However, users at BrainShare said one of the main obstacles blocking more widespread adoption of Novell's networks services offering is that they have trouble convincing upper-level management to buy into Novell's strategy.

"I think it has everything in place right now to enable you to put together an unbelievable enterprise [network]," said Rich Wyant, manager of Novell technical services at Twentieth Century Fox Films, said.

"It's just a matter of getting the buy-in from management."

Twentieth Century Fox already uses Novell's directory services software to let end users at 35 sites around the world access central resources over the Web, according to Wyant. The company also uses Novell's firewall software and has ongoing projects based on Novell's administration and integration technologies, including a tool called Single Sign-on that lets users access all network applications with one password.

Several users said they want to see a stronger marketing campaign that would help them sell the Novell road map to their bosses.

Novell has the ideal directory and security technology to make data, such as patients' records secure and accessible over various heterogeneous information systems, but a user from the health care sector says he fears he will be unable to get upper management to buy into the idea.

"Novell doesn't mean NetWare," he said. "We have [access to] excellent products, such as Single Sign-on, which are cross-platform and augment and cement the [Windows] NT platform, but I can't seem to get the message across," he said.

Gartner analyst Neil MacDonals said Novell's acquisition of consultancy Cambridge Technology last month should help the company sell integrated e-business solutions to the managers who make buying decisions. "They still have to get credibility at the CXO level," he said.

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