Users, Analysts Upbeat About Novell Merger

This month, Novell Inc. overcame the last hurdle in its acquisition of Cambridge Technology Partners Inc. (CTP), and users and analysts are upbeat that the merger will boost the sagging fortunes of both companies.

In particular, they said they hope the merger will increase Novell's range of services, result in offerings that have a combined business and technical focus, and beef up the company's marketing savvy—an area in which the networking and server software company has been especially lacking.

Observers also expressed confidence in the new management team, which will be led by the CEO of CTP, Jack Messman. Shareholders of the Cambridge, Mass.-based services firm approved the merger two weeks ago.

Miami-based transportation company Hellmann Worldwide Logistics uses both the NetWare server operating system and the Novell Directory Services networking products.

"The Cambridge Technology partnership consultancy brings Novell to critical mass on the services front right away," said Chip DiComo, manager of global information services at Hellmann. "I just hope that the products don't suffer."

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AT A GLANCE

Changes At the Top

With the acquisition of CTP, Novell’s executive team is changing.

Chairman: Novell CEO and President Eric Schmidt
CEO and president: CTP CEO Jack Messman

Mike Richichi, an IT director at Drew University in Madison, N.J., said his biggest hope is that through the merger, Novell will get more products out the door and ensure its own long-term survival.

"The perception has been that Novell is not all there and been seen as not viable, and I don't want to see [it] looked down [at] now as it is sometimes," said Richichi. The university uses NetWare and a variety of Novell's networking products, including its ZENWorks management tool.

Richichi also said he hopes the new consulting arm will assemble full, multivendor business packages, not just those with Novell technology.

Analysts said the combination of services and technology is key to Novell's success.

"If Novell can deliver on the potential synergy between its technology and Cambridge Technology Partners' business-focused services, the company could become as important to enterprise networks today and tomorrow as it was to local-area computing networks in the 1980s," said Michael Dortch, an analyst at Robert Frances Group Inc. in Westport, Conn.

Novell must move quickly and present one face to the world to prevent any doubts in the minds of customers, said Dortch. The company should also blow its own horn about customer successes, he said.

Novell's technology for directory services is probably better than the directory software from market leader Microsoft Corp., but Novell will have a hard time winning the marketing battle against Microsoft, said Wagner Rios, an analyst at Boston-based AMR Research Inc.

However, the merger and reorganization may give Novell the marketing savvy it needs to "break the Microsoft stranglehold on the market," he said.

Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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