Attachmate reveals Novell, SUSE, & Linux Plans

In an interview, Attachmate CEO Jeff Hawn discusses his plans for Novell, SUSE and Linux.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Now that Attachmate owns Novell, what does the formerly obscure company plan to do with its $2.2-billion operating system and networking prize? I interviewed Attachmate via e-mail CEO Jeff Hawn and this is what he told me.

Before launching into the interview, I'll note that most of Novell's senior executive staff won't be hanging around. Ron Hovsepian; President and CEO; Dana Russell, CFO; John Dragoon,  CMO; and Markus Rex, SVP and General Manager of open platforms and long time SUSE leader have all left. So it is that Attachmate is starting with a clean management slate.

SJVN: What's the plan for Novell's offerings?

JH: Business will operate as usual at Novell. We intend to operate the company as an individual business unit, meaning that there is a direct line of sight between sales, marketing, technical and professional services, product management and engineering. Novell will operate autonomously and now has the ability to focus and dedicate resources on the needs of their customers.

Current Novell and SUSE product roadmaps will remain in place. The Attachmate Group does not end-of-life products and we do not force customers to move to/from any products - we are focused on meeting the needs of our customers and that is our first priority.

SJVN: What's the plan for SUSE's offering?

JH: We are bringing together the products and people associated with the Novell OPS [Open Platform Solutions] business and forming a new dedicated business unit under the SUSE brand. The fundamentals remain the same: a passionate commitment to quality engineering and excellent customer service. But, this new BU structure will enable the focus, agility and adaptability required to aggressively pursue the rapidly growing enterprise Linux market opportunity. Customers, service providers and industry partners are ready for the technical performance, business value and world-class service SUSE can offer as a focused business unit.

SJVN: Why split Novell and SUSE?

JH: SUSE was acquired by Novell some time ago, and we see tremendous potential in this technology. Our hope is to bring prominence to it by giving it individual branding as a separate business unit. By separating both Novell and SUSE, we can give each of these brands the focus they need to meet the needs of their specific customers and ensure that they are successful.

SJVN: Who will manage them? I'm presuming they'll have separate management teams? Will SUSE be headed out of Germany again?

JH: Novell and SUSE will each be run by a President and General Manager, and both ultimately report to me. Novell will be headquartered in Provo, Utah and managed by President and General manager Bob Flynn. SUSE will be headquartered in Nuremburg, Germany and will be run by Nils Brauckmann, President and General Manager.

SJVN: What plans does Attachmate for Novell/SUSE's open-source offerings? E.g. openSUSE and Mono.

JH: SUSE sponsorship and participation in key open-source projects is a fundamental element of the business. This commitment is driven by a desire to contribute to and collaborate with the community in a way that fosters the success of open source technologies overall and creates the greatest value for our customers. The openSUSE project is a great example of vibrant and healthy collaboration. SUSE sponsorship and participation in projects like openSUSE creates great value for the community and also for SUSE customers who benefit from the innovations and advancements we create together.

SJVN: What will Attachmate's acquisition mean for Novell/SUSE's partnerships with Microsoft? With its VARs?

JH: Microsoft and our partners will continue to play an important role for all of The Attachmate Group business units. There are no changes to our existing partners and channels.

SJVN: Will Novell/SUSE continue its membership with the Open Invention Network [an open-source patent protection group]? The Linux Foundation?

JH:: We will continue our membership in the Open Invention Network as well as The Linux Foundation.

So, what does all this mean? Well, for customers, partners and developers it sounds like business as usual. Still, with such a clean management slate we're going to have to wait and see how things really come out in the next few months. For the moment, if I were working with Novell I'd be cautiously optimistic.

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