Novell MD on getting along with Microsoft

Summary:In 2006, Novell signed a deal with Microsoft over sales and disputed Linux patents. Now Novell UK's new head, Sean McCarry, describes how that relationship is shaping up management. It's also about enhancing interoperability between OOXML and ODF documents.

Is there a place for both OOXML and ODF? Microsoft has been easing off on support for OOXML.
Overall the enterprises in Novell's marketplace are seeing a large growth in Linux. But documents cover a lot of strategies, and there's going to be a mixture of proprietary and open source.

Is the recession an opportunity or a threat for open source?
I think it's a real opportunity for Novell. We've got the government marketplace and we've also got the commercial side. We're seeing more large customers coming to Novell to migrate from proprietary [Unix] software to Linux. Cost savings are significant with Linux, compared with the support costs and hardware costs of Unix providers.

At the moment Novell has large opportunities in security and identity solutions — we're seeing huge demands for those. [Specific security product demands include] audit and login solutions, especially due to compliance issues across government. However, we're not taking the economic challenges to organisations lightly. We are providing customers with opportunities where they must take hard decisions.

How is Novell doing in the current climate?
If you look at our growth rate, I think Novell is in a strong position today, and will be in a stronger position in the future.

But didn't Novell lay off about 100 staff at the beginning of February?
Novell, like any company, is always looking for operational efficiencies. Yes, there was an announcement that under 100 staff would go in engineering, but there are over 4,200 employees — you're looking at approximately two percent of the workforce. Compared with our competitors, I don't think it's a really important matter or a big number.

Surely it's an important matter to the staff who were laid off?
Yes, but again, it's a business, and I'm not close to those decisions. In the UK we have increased the headcount — we've increased the sales staff.

That's positive. By how many?
It's not a large number. We've increased the sales camp by five people in the past few months. The UK business of sales and marketing is healthy.

It's good you are employing more sales staff, but don't they need a product to sell? Could Novell ridding itself of engineering staff hobble it in the future?
I'm not the expert, but if you look at Novell's acquisitions strategy, [engineering] is a critical part of Novell, and we're an organisation with increasing revenues. In the UK we don't have an engineering facility — the majority of R&D and [software] development work is done in the US.

So what can you tell me about future acquisitions?
It's hard to comment on future acquisitions. Linux in the datacentre has taken off, as customers are looking at massive cost savings. For example, our customer Kent Police has demonstrated a 90 percent cost saving since migration.

Topics: Developer


Tom is a technology reporter for, writing about all manner of security and open-source issues.Tom had various jobs after leaving university, including working for a company that hired out computers as props for films and television, and a role turning the entire back catalogue of a publisher into e-books.Tom eventually found tha... Full Bio

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