Novell trumpets ‘Software for the Open Enterprise’

Novell Inc. is repositioning itself as a company focused on open standards and open-source software as its latest marketing effort, according to a senior company executive.

The firm, which has often come under fire for poor marketing of both itself and its products, is due to unveil its new mantra “Software for the Open Enterprise” at its EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) user show, BrainShare Barcelona, Monday.

“The announcement marks us changing our positioning in the market to more accurately reflect the problems our customers face,” said Bill Hewitt, Novell’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, in a phone interview prior to the show late last week.

Hewitt joined Novell in February from enterprise applications software vendor PeopleSoft which became part of Oracle Corp. at the start of this year. He’s responsible for steering Novell’s corporate strategy as well as all the company’s marketing and communications efforts. Part of Novell’s new open emphasis will be “how to talk more in customers’ language” to solve their issues, according to Hewitt.

Novell’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jack Messman is due to make the marketing repositioning announcement at BrainShare Barcelona Monday. The show began on Sunday and is due to run through Sept. 15. Over 450 partners and more than 650 customers have registered for the event, according to Hewitt

Novell is focusing its new message of openness in a number of key application areas — desktop, data center, security and identity management, resource management, as well as workgroup and collaboration, according to Hewitt.

For openness on the desktop, Hewitt pointed to last week’s announcement that Novell expects to release its Suse Linux 10.0 early next month. The operating system is the first fruit of the openSuse project, a community program backed by Novell, and incorporates feedback from developers garnered since the first public beta was released on Aug. 9.

“We’re very encouraged by the amount of information we’ve received from our customers,” said Hewitt, with the Web site receiving more than two million hits as of Monday. The web site itself has doubled in size over the past month and Suse Linux 10.0 has been localized by the openSuse community in whole or part into 12 different languages, he added.

Turning to the data center where Linux is making inroads, Novell will be announcing a number of new partners for its Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9.0 at BrainShare Barcelona, according to Hewitt.

“More and more, the adoption of Linux is closer to the heart of the enterprise, the data center,” Hewitt said. The company will also be unveiling a “more rigorous training program for Linux professionals,” analogous to its NetWare certification program, he said. Novell defines “rigorous” as the program focusing more on how Linux gets deployed in the real world as opposed to just concentrating on the software itself, Hewitt said.

On the security side, Novell is taking the wraps off two beta programs for its Identity Manager and Assess Manager software, Hewitt said. Identity Manager offers users a way to visually map roles and identities to company assets and information, while Access Manager helps securely open up identity management to a firm’s partners as well as its own employees, he added.

In the resource management software arena, Novell has its ZENworks 7 software suite which now has over 40 million users, according to Hewitt. As for groupware and collaboration, Novell has donated about 250,000 lines of core code from its NetMail application to its Hula open-source Internet collaboration engine, he said. The company’s other major open-source project is Mono which allows Microsoft Corp.’s .Net applications to run on Linux.

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