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Q&A: Novell's Messman and Stone weigh in from BrainShare

They talked about Linux and the future of grid computing at Novell

March 23, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - SALT LAKE CITY -- Novell Inc. CEO Jack Messman and Chris Stone, vice chairman in the office of the CEO, talked about Linux at Novell, grid computing and other topics in separate interviews yesterday with Computerworld's Matt Hamblen at the company's 20th annual BrainShare conference, which has attracted 6,000 users here.
Mr. Messman, you said in your keynote address to the BrainShare audience that Novell is back. How has the last year been with the reinvigoration from Linux at Novell?
Messman:
This has really been a process of three years, starting with the merger with Cambridge Technology Partners in 1999, and the world came down on all of us with the dot-com bust. We were all searching for the light at the end of the tunnel, and Novell was a company in transition. We hadn't figured out what to do to transition the company until we came up with the idea of migrating NetWare to Linux.
That idea opened a whole new way of thinking in the company. It was as if the light bulb went off. We suddenly saw opportunities where we hadn't seen them before, and partners said if you do that we'd be interested and we'd be willing to help you. It's been nice to have that sort of reaction. We had difficulty talking to people and getting in the door with some customers. We were the NetWare people. We had many other products but just couldn't get to the right people. Now, the spotlight is on us with Linux and we get in the door. And we talk about Linux, but then talk about Web services, identity management and they say, "I didn't know you did that."
What are some of your future marketing efforts going to be?
Messman:
We're focusing on changing marketing. We won't focus so much on creating demand for Linux in general, because IBM is doing a good job of that and spending the money for TV ads and so forth. We're going to ride their coattails for that. In terms of turning Linux into solutions for customers, we'll do a good job of that going forward.
Would you say Novell is going after Microsoft with Linux on the server and desktop?
Messman:
That's an important point. We're not going after Microsoft; The open-source community is going after Microsoft. We're not taking on Microsoft; The open-source community is. We don't own the Linux code; the community owns it. We merely sell software and services that allow CIOs to use the free code that's within the open-source community.
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