Novell Canada puts CTO in president’s role

One month since hosting its annual Brainshare conference in Salt Lake City, Novell Canada Ltd. has appointed former CTO Ross Chevalier as its new president.

In his new role as Novell’s Canadian boss, Chevalier will oversee the country’s operations, support Novell Canada’s partnership model, and bring the company’s global vision to businesses across the country. Chevalier, who also blogs for ITWorldCanada’s Enterprise Insights, joined Novell Canada in 1998 and has been involved in the tech industry for over 25 years. As CTO, he acted as customer and market spokesperson for the company, dealing with all of Novell’s product business units.

In his new role, Chevalier stressed the need to build on many of the themes outlined by Novell executives at last month’s Brainshare, which includes facilitating mixed IT environments within Canadian enterprises. He said interoperable Linux software, systems and identity management platforms and collaboration tools will allow customers the freedom to use any technology they want in their IT infrastructure.

Chevalier said. “Just like we stressed at Brainshare, we want to help make IT work as one and create agility in IT for customers to have technology adapt to their requirements as they move through time,” Chevalier said. “We have Canadians here locally on the ground to make that happen and are absolutely committed to the success of IT here in Canada.”

Chevalier said that customers and partners should not expect any fundamental changes with Novell Canada under his leadership, as he vowed to continue building upon former president Katie McAuliff’s goals. McAuliff created the vacancy in Novell Canada’s top job with her promotion to vice-president of channels for Novell Americas.

“She did an incredible job in getting us started and transitioning to this truly partner-led model we have at Novell Canada,” Chevalier said. “Having somebody that understands and loves the Canadian market in her new role is going to mean growth for us and for our partners in the future.”

But one area of Novell’s business that Chevalier may be challenged to grow is the SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) platform, which has faced struggles in the face of a near total monopoly from Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Roger Levy, senior vice-president and general manager of Open Platform Solutions for Novell, said Novell’s Linux platform has made significant strides despite the Redmond giant’s 95 per cent market share.

“We’ve come out with the only enterprise grade Linux desktop that has support and quality,” Levy told ComputerWorld Canada at last month’s Brainshare conference. “With SLED 10, we’ve experienced a strong rollout worldwide and we are now at the stage of having it preload on many devices. Lenovo is shipping it on its T Series. Dell is also shipping it preloaded.”

Chevalier agreed, saying the tremendous growth of Linux at the desktop level is evident in the amount of hardware vendors coming on board to support it.

“Once the major players, as many of them already have done release their hardware platforms with Linux desktop as an install option from factory, you’ll see even more growth,” he said. “For example, just last week, HP released their new mini-notebook with a SLED pre-install option. That kind of thing will be an incredible enabler.”

And while Chevalier said Novell Canada is incredibly committed to Linux on the desktop, he made clear it isn’t all that the company is focused on. When people think about Novell, he said, they ought to be thinking of virtualization as well.

“Virtualization is an incredible opportunity, but if you can’t manage virtualization, it becomes an incredible risk,” he said. “When you look in the marketplace at your choices, there are multiple schools of thought around it. Some use a proprietary model and when you get into the scope and scale of hundreds and thousands of virtual machines, it gets really expensive – especially if there isn’t a management model in that proprietary framework.”

Chevalier specifically referenced the acquisition of Toronto-based virtualization firm PlateSpin Ltd. as an integral player in how far Novell goes in the virtualization space.

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