Novell kicked off its Brainshare conference in Europe last week with the confident proclamation reminiscent of a political party - "new Novell, new attitude".
The networking giant set out its product roadmap for this year and next.
"Novell is turning round," declared Denice Gibson, Novell's senior vice president in charge of Internet products. "We have been a little slow bringing products to market", admitted Gibson, who claimed she had brought new energy to the company since joining less than a year ago. She promised faster product cycles, working in Internet years, and more early access releases to key customers.
This year will see the introduction of Novell Replication Services in July (see story at the bottom of page); Novell Distributed Print Services this summer; a new version of GroupWise in September; Border Services, which govern the relationship between the LAN and WAN or Internet, in early autumn; a version of ManageWise with Java capabilities in the second half of the year; and by early next year the Wolf Mountain clustering technology and a release of IntranetWare, codenamed Moab.
Java, NDS and compliance with industry standards such as CORBA are key planks in the company's strategy, Gibson said. This strategy is spearheaded by new CEO Eric Schmidt, one of the inventors of Java.
However, Gibson conceded the company will have to work hard to promote its vision. "We still need to prove ourselves to the financial community," she admitted. Novell has been performing poorly on the stock market in recent months.
But Ashim Pal, analyst at researcher the Meta Group, remained unconvinced.
"I have reservations because Novell has left it so late to communicate its story," he explained. "The question has always been marketing. Novell has great technology, but has been very poor at communicating its message to the market."
While he believed Novell was moving in the right direction, Pal said: "I don't see the ruthless killer instinct there." Unless Schmidt can inject more aggression into Novell, its battle with Microsoft over networking operating systems is lost, Pal believed. "Novell has left it very late to change, and every day they wait, Microsoft is installing more NT."
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