Novell CEO: We'll 'fight' Vista

Novell CEO: We'll 'fight' Vista

Summary: Novell will continue its march against Microsoft and any uptake of Vista despite a recent alliance with the software giant, said Ron Hovsepian, Novell president and CEO, who was in Sydney today. Also: Watch the four-part video.


update Novell will continue its march against Microsoft and any uptake of Vista despite a recent alliance with the software giant.

(Please click the Playlist above to access the four-part video.)

"We're excited by the muted reaction to Vista," Ron Hovsepian, Novell president and CEO, told the media at a breakfast meeting in Sydney today.

"We're going to attack [Microsoft] vigorously and go after their footprint as much as we can," Hovsepian said.

Vista was five years in the making, so the code behind it is very complex, according to Hovsepian. Whereas open source is more nimble and flexible. "And we have got to take advantage of that."

Despite its commitment to attack the market on its own terms, Hovsepian admits there are benefits to its alliance with the software giant.

The reality is you can't escape the "Microsoft juggernaut" in the marketplace, so you have to work with them to get your foot in the door, according to Hovsepian. When you talk to customers, he said, most will say "I hate Microsoft". Yet those same customers say 60 percent of their servers run on Windows.

"The closer you get to the customer ... you increase the chance of migrating footprints to Linux." "We want to compete with Microsoft ... and then we'll work together once a customer decides which platform [to run] ... It ensures longevity for Novell in the marketplace," Hovsepian said.

However, he is confident that Novell occupies second place in what he calls a very young market. Linux is a US$500 million market, he said, and growing at the expense of Unix consolidation. "We have not taken enough from Microsoft."

One significant customer that Novell has taken from Microsoft, however, is Peugeot. Novell is replacing Windows with 20,000 Suse Linux desktops and 2,500 servers.

The Peugeot win was considerable, yet marketshare play still played a role in the decision to join hands with its long time bitter enemy despite Novell claims that it was purely customer driven.

"It was not a deal that Novell had to make," Hovsepian said. However, it was definitely made to create more market momentum. And it was a deal that seemed to resonate more with the customers, he added.

"We did not sign a patent cross-licence agreement with Microsoft. That has been one of the confusion points out there. What we agreed to was you will not sue our customers and we will not sue your customers for any of our products," Hovsepian said.

"That is what we agreed to -- a covenant not to sue our customers. That is where some of the confusion and rhetoric has been generated in the marketplace. So are we really clear? Microsoft can sue us and we can sue Microsoft tomorrow."

The threat of legal action, real or otherwise, had hindered take-up of Linux deals in the marketplace, according to Hovsepian.

He said that Novell had lost Linux deals with four Fortune 500 customers to Microsoft over concerns about intellectual property. Looking at the losses beforehand the deal with Microsoft "makes sense".

Done deal
And the pact with Microsoft has certainly made sense in the three months following the signing, according to Hovsepian. The software maker has honoured its contractual commitments by hiring sales staff and dedicating money to marketing. As well the companies are working on an interoperability lab together.

More importantly for Novell "big wins" have been starting to roll in, further justifying Novell's decision to enter into a coopetition agreement with their foe. Novell claims approximately 35,000 Suse Linux support certificates have been sold since the deal was signed.

Yet, Hovsepian remains wary. He marks the progress every day. "I have to because it's a big deal for Novell."

In the second part of this video interview, Hovsepian explains why the popularity of OpenOffice will be key to the financial success of Novell.

Topics: Open Source, Enterprise Software, Linux


Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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  • Longevity for Novell

    rides on Microsoft's back is a very sad place for Novell to find itself in. Once long ago it was a market leader in a space Microsoft has gradually competed with and taken from them, and now Novell can no longer compete in their own right, so they need MS to fail to potentially make them a little successful, oh how the mighty has fallen
  • No......

    Novell is just another in a long line of burnt out carcasses that the illegal and underhand business tactics of Microsoft has produced.

    Novell are to be lauded for their initiative. They, as have countless others, fell victim to the swindle that is Microsoft but now they're fighting back!

    SLED is a great piece of work and I whole-heartedly support Novell in their endeavours.

    Novell, Sun, IBM, ORacle etc etc... the Big Guns are finally all lining up and this time it's Gates and Ballmer that are staring down the barrel, that's why they're p**hing themselves in Redmond these days.
  • interoperability

    M$ continue to make their software as non-interoperable as possible - in fact if no other software can work with their software (or files created by their software) that makes M$ the happiest. Each corporation signing a separate agreement with M$ to tackle interoperability is far too inefficient and will lead to overall costly but shoddy products. Now if MS made the specs available to the public and made the use royalty-free (as Adobe had done with PS and PDF) then we can look forward to true interoperability. Somehow I don't see that happening - after all it is MS that pulled out of the CIFS group and mangled the protocol almost beyond recognition just so Novell software (and software like Samba) have a hard time communicating with MS file servers.

    I think we need governments to force MS to be interoperable. The EU seems to be the only entity pushing this - and there have still been no substantial outcomes from the EU case. (Microsoft is fighting very hard to ensure that interoperability simply doesn't happen.)
  • What you are saying is...

    Microsoft as an organisation is extremely clever and have out thought, sold and convinced all they are significantly better than the has beens that have fallen by the wayside. I agree Novell isn't dead yet, but based on returns and profits it can't survive much longer returning little value to their investors.

    The biggest issue with most of the open source world is they do not work with each other to provide the seamless integration MS offers, even IBM whose reputation does even ensure this. Until all the competitors either beat MS at MS's best game or join together (which will never happen) MS will continue with what it does best
    outwit, outplay and survive
  • interoperability

    I completely agree about the interoperability issue & MS.
    I think there's another point in Novell saying they're "fighting vista" - to leverage the negative issues against Novell which have risen among many members in the FSF and the whole Open Source community.
  • John is back again

    Serial MS praiser. MS loves people like you as you, who swallows the blue pill and fall victim to the matrix.

    The matrix has you. Free yourself John. you can do it, swallow the red pill.
  • So what your saying is...

    Microsoft slew the beast called Novell and now all the open source vultures are flying to pick the bones and try to leverage themselves above the stinking flesh that remains
  • 32 percent less sales for vista comparing to XP in the same period

    28 percent less profit fo MS in the Q4 2006

    I think the blue giant i slowly tumbling down, marketing cannot keep the party going....
  • huh?? seamless integration

    Can you rephrase that??

    Among other things, integration is something that MS discovered just recently..;-)

    Rebranding of aquired softwareompanies is not equal to integration, dude...
  • Which sources do you read??

    Suppose only the blue ones.....

    Dream on dude, the world IS changing!
    And that's good for everyone....also for MS

    F.e. Office 2007 is the first better version since office 95, and not only because of StarOffice, Openoffice etc...but there is competition again.

    Ahh, quit with this nonsens...see the advantages!
  • Blue

    IBM is big Blue not MS

    ..Yeah right - Novell - you are a has-been in the technology world. Liquidate & give to funds back to yur long suffering investors...
  • IBM is TRUE blue

  • yeah right

    Copy & paste that sentence and stick it to the wall.

    Nice to read it again in a year or will make you smile! ;-)
  • Ok wil ldo

    I therefore assume Novell's share price will climb, its revenue's up across the entire product range, and no more customers running away as fast as possible and not paying more dead end fees to Novell for dead end software