Mailbag: Tale of woe?

"There is nothing like specializing yourself out of a job." - A newsletter reader.

You could almost feel the group hug. Messages poured into my in-box last week with words of support and career suggestions for my friend, the network manager whose company is tossing out Novell gear in favour of Microsoft's offerings.

Many say that, while they too are fond of Novell, they learned a long time ago that having strong Microsoft skills was a guarantee of job security. Others say that they suffered the exact same situation and learned the hard way that Microsoft knowledge is necessary to stay in this industry.

Some of you encourage him to dust off his resume and take his Novell skills to a place they would be appreciated. A few of you say that your companies ditched Novell, bought into Microsoft, and eventually returned to Novell.

The majority of you, in some form or another, say Novell needs to do a better job of marketing the benefits of its product line so that network managers don't look like they are going out on a limb when they back Novell vs. Microsoft. You say that Novell is just as much to blame for your predicament as the corporate executives who don't understand your position.

"Unfortunately, while Microsoft is aggressively marketing its product, Novell seems to have adopted a 'roll over and play dead' strategy and left us Novell loyalists to hang out and try to sell the system for them," one network manager says. "You may wish to recommend that your subject contact Novell and ask them to assist in fighting the battle with him and offer some of the breaks and support that Microsoft may be offering."

Interesting point that one reader makes is that if my friend stays and helps to install the Microsoft network, he might encounter more trouble. "If management is used to the stability of a Novell platform, he will be blamed for the debacle that is a Microsoft network," he says.

This from another respondent: "Your friend will quickly become an obstacle and present a negative attitude unless he gets on board the train that has already left the station. He will be seen as someone who would rather die a martyr's death than roll with the change and therefore, it becomes his fault that his situation didn't improve, and oh-by-the-way, good riddance since he is now causing another problem instead of helping solve this new set of technical issues facing the corporation."

Another reader agrees that him staying in this environment might not be beneficial to either party. The reader says: "If the major manufacturer is looking to make the change [to Microsoft] the I would highly recommend him doing the same.

There are plenty of companies out there using Novell and with his expertise, I would bet he could almost name his price."

Many of you suggested that he not lose sight of his Novell abilities, but continue on the path of learning how to integrate Novell and Microsoft environments.

"He should seek out a Microsoft techie as a mentor to help him learn the ropes the Microsoft way, using Microsoft Press books and CD-ROM courseware by third parties," a reader recommends.

"This will make him more marketable, signal to present management that he is open-minded and supportive of the transition, and may prolong his tenure."

What do you think? Let me know at mailto:sgittlen@nww.com.

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