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Rejuvenated Novell back with a bang

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With a host of new management in place and a firm strategy to dominate in a mixed proprietary and open source environment, Novell SA has made it clear that it's back with a bang at its annual Reducation partner conference.

In her keynote address, newly-appointed MD of Novell SA, Michelle Beetar, paraphrased the Elvis Pressley hit when she told delegates that it was now "time for a little less conversation and a lot more action."
Beetar says that the majority of her first month in office has been spent canvassing customers around what they are doing in their IT environments and exactly where Novell fits in with this.
"After talking to customers, I do believe that many of them want to move to open source, but would any CIO bet his whole career on going from proprietary systems like IBM or BEA [straight] to Linux and open source?" she asks. "Customers are not willing to make that kind of transition – it's a three- to five-year change, or transition, that we can expect to see.
"So we're working in this mixed environment of both prorietary systems and open source."
Beetar says that Novell is now differentiating itself with a two-pronged strategy in the market.
"Firstly, we want to own the Linux environment – from the desktop to the datacentre – a $21-billion market growing at 5%, with Linux a $502-million market growing at 26%," she says. "Secondly, we want to be a dominant player in the mixed environment which is a revenue engine currently worth around $20-billion and growing at 13% per annum.
"We're doing exceedingly well in this market in South Africa already and I think that is something we shouldn't be hiding under a bush," Beetar says, adding that Novell's ISM offering, for example, has four components listed in Gartner's Magic Quadrant.
"And if you look at the growth rates of these two areas, we have no excuse as Novell and as a community, to grow – and grow aggressively.
"In South Africa in particular, the Linux side is a major untapped opportunity," she says.
"In the coming months you will absolutely see an increased focus on new business – we're going to be much more aggressive about selling and telling people more about what we do well," she says. "We're going to compete like hell."
In terms of channel partners, Beetar says, the main focus for Novell is in services and specialisation.
"We are all about software," she says. "And we're looking more and more for our partner community to add services around this."
Specialisation, she adds, is key.
"When we've been competing in the market we've been going into customers and trying to do all-encompassing sales," Beetar says. "With specialisation – and we will become more specialised – the reality is that we will be able to sell that much better. It also means that you, as partners, will know exactly who to go to [within Novell SA] to get assistance.
"This is a very positive move for all of us and we'll start seeing some clear benefits in the coming months," she says.
Beetar emphasised the importance of the channel to Novell.
"Matthew Lee (Novell SA channel manager) has described our channel as a self-healing ecosystem – constantly communicating with each other and with us whenever problems come up," she says. "The challenge for us going forward is to make sure we continue with this same ethos within this community.
"You are an extension of Novell," she told partners. "You're not different from us. You get the same training as us. And we're prepared to invest in you.
"We want to make it easier to sell with Novell," she adds. "And in a year's time, at the next Reducation, we want you to be saying that Novell is the organisation you like best working with."