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back to article Microsoft and Attachmate were not Novell's destiny

Novell, a collection of mostly legacy software businesses, has announced that it will be devoured by another collection of legacy software businesses, Attachmate. It's not Novell's finest hour, and is made worse by the sale of 882 patents to Microsoft-friendly CPTN Holdings, even despite Novell retaining its Unix copyrights. …

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LDS
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Where Novell failed

IMHO Novell failed because they invested money in useless products like Mono that are only useful to a competitor like Microsoft to boost its technology ("see? They adopted our technology because it's great, they won't go anywhere anyway, thus use ours that is the original, not a copy, and better") , instead of focusing on bringing to Linux what Netware brought once to the IBM PC world, a well designed set of functionalities large company desperately needs. But they didn't. They rolled out some pale copies of what was available elsewhere. In some ways happened the same as it happened with office suites. Both WordPerfect/Borland and Lotus committed suicide delivering lame products, leaving the field to Microsoft. Also they wasted resources trying to battle on the WIndows, DOS and OS/2 platforms instead of focusing on one like MS did.

All these companies eventually failed, and were acquired. Same mistakes, same fate.

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Dead Vulture

A sad end

To a once great company....

RIP Novell

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Grenade

Where were you when...?

It's not Novell's finest hour, [...], sold for scrap, and possibly selling out the open-source community in the process."

Selling out is a big phrase Matt, who is this community and where were they (where were _you_) when Novell were taking it to SCO? (the time, resources, management diversion, did you help?)

The received wisdom seems to be that Novell lost it when Netware got seen off by NT (for whatever reason). Stuff happens, Schumpeter described the process as creative destruction - good for everyone except those that get destroyed.

Novell needed to find a role (to do things such as y'know pay salaries) - they tried several approaches, I remember getting a free geeko at a London launch of Novell's "mixed source" initiative and inwardly groaning but then I was free to groan.

Would you care to compare how much Novell has done for the kernel, for KDE, for Gnome, X11, open (libre) office (and all the other stuff) with how much Canonical has done?

openSUSE is a great distro, big in Europe, I recall when Novell bought it various coming out of the woodwork to tell us how it would all end in tears.

"Selling out" Matt? You're full of it. Bullshit talks but money walks. Canonical has got a couple of decades to go before it achieves the longevity or successes that Novell achieved.

I feel a bit sorry for them (in case they could give a fig)

No, I have no financial or other interest in Novell except a personal interest in getting my continued access to a distro that consistently delivered the best KDE.

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Linux

NINS

> Would you care to compare how much Novell has done for the kernel, for KDE

Novell is not Suse.

Novell is the company that bought Suse and then trashed it.

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Novell saga

Matt Assay may be naive, as well as nostalgic in writing about Novell. Five years ago, I had secured contract for complete re-engineering of software infrastructure for two hotel clients in Bemuda, using Suse Linux Enterprise Servers and complimentary apps.

All three Novell "gold partners" on the island were point blank in stating that they had no intention of supporting Linux - in any fashion - and would be pushing Microsoft solutions. I further learned that these Novell Partners refused to undertake any Suse Linux training programs, but insisted -and got - re-certification of "partnership" status from Novell, even while remaining Microsoft Gold Partners which they happily proclaimed as the only platform of support.

Hovsepian knew of this situation, and approved of and accepted the course. He is/was a terrible manager of Novell and possibly drove Novell into the dump as a Microsoft agent.

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Dead Vulture

Tombo

Not to be a dill-hole, but the phrase is "Money talks, bullshit walks."

RIP Novell (NT would be nothing if it didn't have you to copy)

RIP Borland (Delphi was the sex)

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FAIL

Where did they go wrong?

Novell was a great company once upon a time. But imho lost their vision. They were better at core functions than SCO or NT, but failed to follow up on their vision.

Schmidt couldn't turn it around 10 years ago, and what have they accomplished since?

I hate to see them go, but it's time to put the old dog down.

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Simple

They sold a product which was used to provide missing functionality in Windows. Once Windows has that missing functionality added there was no need for NetWare.

Novell couldn't see that coming, Novell didn't see that people would not want to continue buying their product.

Once the realised that NetWare was a lame duck they didn't have any clue on what else to produce. They flirted with Linux but there was no conviction there. Not to mention they got distracted by all the SCO court cases.

If Novell had produced a really decent version of Linux which would be a solid enterprise performer then they would have had some kind of life after Netware.

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Dead Vulture

750 million juggernaut

If Novell's was sold for 1.5 times sales it would appear they were roughly equal to the only foss juggernaught. Maybe they realized there is a ceiling for foss and they got what they could.

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Anonymous Coward

Redhat market cap

Is >8 billion dollars. I am pretty sure 1.5X Novel sales are not even close to that.

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ql
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Unhappy

Techno, business and cultural decisions did it

As I recall the history, as far as it related to my experience at that time, it went something like this. Nothing beat Netware in its heyday, when it came up against Banyan Vines etc. But then MS OS2 and LAN Manager, which would become the general purpose OS with good-enough networking, NT, came to the party. It's possible that Novell knew Netware was too single-purpose, and around that time, they started punting NLMs as the way to run other applications. Many IT pros still have grey hairs earned at that time, but then Novell thought that they could gain better performance for those horrid NLMs by running them in ring 0. The appalling result of the many badly-written NLMs was that people started bringing in NT for general purpose reasons, found the netwoking to be adequate, and also found that file and print sharing didn't have to cost several hundred per seat. Novell thought they were still head and shoulders above the rest for networking, but by now even TCP/IP protocol stacks were a commodity, and it was no longer necessary to have IPX/SPX<->TCP/IP gateways and the rest.

Also, their stewardship of desktop apps was similarly lax.

When they bought SuSE, it seemed they'd seen where the industry was heading, but they still clung to Netware, marketing SuSE as Netware with a different kernel. Worse, they used Netware trained engineers to install and run SuSE, one of whom I briefly used to install a pilot of directory services, but whose approach to *nix was completely grounded in the admin-centric Netware approach. Who knows why they bought Ximian - perhaps they thought they could own the gnome desktop - but that took them down the dangerous path of mono and their subsequent supping with the devil, which looks as though it now has the potential to supply FUDfodder for ages.

Poor Ray Noorda must be spinning in his grave, though a lot of this occurred on his watch.

:-(

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where would they be if they'd not kicked Noorda out

Ray Noorda tried to take Novell into the Linux world years before Suse was purchased but was run out of Novell for it. He then started Caldera and Caldera Linux which was a darn good distro for the time. But he also purchased DR-DOS from Novell and got millions from Microsoft via legal antitrust case and others at Caldera found it easier to make money using lawyers instead of product. The SCO case came of this when Caldera purchased SCO.

another one bites the dust.

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Anonymous Coward

Novell's recurring traitor

"Ray Noorda tried to take Novell into the Linux world years before Suse was purchased but was run out of Novell for it. He then started Caldera and Caldera Linux which was a darn good distro for the time."

Guess who ran him out of Novell, just at the point when Linux was taking off. Hint: who ended up running what used to be known as Caldera? It's shocking how people who destroy so much value keep getting business gigs, and that's not just a Utah phenomenon.

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Megaphone

Alzheimers any?

Noorda had the prefigurings of Alzheimer's when he was made 'emeritus'. I have the t-shirt's in my closet resulting from his confusions. ("Novell / Wordperfect / Quattropro merger day" and "$10-billion in 5 years!") I use them to remind myself of the word 'hubris'.

Any chance your memory is.... playing you false?

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Headmaster

I hope....

Excuse my ignorance on these subjects..... Somewhat limited in my education on the subject - but I hope whatever linux // FOSS // and similar - never ever end up under the control of Microsoft....

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Stop

mistakes bite hard

There is no doubt that Novell made a number of mistakes.

One such mistake was not suing Microsoft for antitrust when it first began to bundle networking technology with the Microsoft OS.

Number one Networking technology should never be bundled with a given OS. In fact it can not be. Technically networking technology is use to communicate bwteen multiple systems and no where does that suggest that both system should be the same OS. In reality, lan communications should be just like the Internet. Simply put, no assumptions can be made about the OS running at the server or even on the client. As soon as you do that, you restrict the utility.

When Microsoft bundled their networking technology with the OS, Novell should have sued Microsoft to make certain the products remain separate. Everyone today still suffers from that lack of a decision on their part. Sure you can put Samba on Linux. And Microsoft puts their SMB on their OS. But, it would be a much better solution if consumers could pick and choose between several networking technologies that are readily available on all platforms. Networking by its very nature should be completely cross platform. And it is not because of Microsoft. And Novell for that matter.

Instead of suing Microsoft Novell just got Microsoft in include its client licenses on Microsoft platforms. But, that was not enough. It permitted Novell's Netware to work with Microsoft clients but it did nothing to allow Novell technology to replace Microsoft technology. And you only find real competition if products can substitute for each other. Without substitutes one technology will fade away.

The result is Microsoft's domination in server/client technology. Microsoft could do without Novell. But, Novell could never do without Microsoft. So Novell goes away. Slowly but surely. No substitution was possible.

The browser market went away due to illegal Microsoft practices. So too has the networking marketplace. No alternatives exist for networking on a group of Microsoft systems. None. And the EU Commission wonders how they can break up the monopoly on business servers. It won't break until networking technology is unbundled from the OS and consumers have a choice of Samba, Microsoft or NFS. And there is no way SAMBA or NFS can replace Microsoft networking technology as long as all consumers have to buy the Microsoft crap. It is the same as the browser market. As long as Microsoft illegally bundles separate products no alternative products will ever have a fair and open marketplace. And they do not. No browsers. No alternative networking. And that is true even though the entrie industry including all consumers would benefit from fair and open markets in those two technologies.

If you want fair and open markets you have to prevent illegal product bundling. Microsoft knows for certain that their monopoly is safe for as long as the so called authorities fail to figure that out.

Just because you think you need networking or you think you need a browser is absolutely no reason you should have to buy that technology from the OS vendor. Of course, Microsoft thinks otherwise because they do not want any competition and they do not want to have to sell or market their crap. That costs money. It is much easier to just violate the law and lie to consumers. So far the US DOJ and the EU Commission have been bought off. Either that or they can not think straight. Maybe they do not understand how Microsoft controls markets illegally. It might be they are that dumb. Or, they are just controlled policially or by money. But, neither one represents consumers or the industry.

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Linux

You say that novel should have sued MS for antitrust...

That would not have worked at the time as there was more competition in the market I don't think at that time Microsoft had a clear monopoly even with desktop products. That is why MS got into trouble with the browser/media player. Additionally novel was competing in the server market microsoft have never really had a monopoly in the server market, server OS market or networking market.

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WTF?

History time

"Networking technology should never be bundled with a given OS"

Um, all operating systems have built in networking technology. Blame Unix (or was it Multics) for starting us down that slippery slope...

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Where Novell lost out? You all are missing it

Novell started losing the game when MS began making network administration tools more intuitive than novell's offerings. I don't think anyone here would disagree that administrating MS networks is more complex than novell networks; quite the opposite. Novell's management tools never really got better, they'd just change direction midstep, leaving half done toolsets out there. Half done tool sets that were the only tools to use, in many cases.

For instance, I applaud their move to web services for network administration ( although iManager is...touchy. I'm still not quite sure how you screw up a web interface so badly, but then I shouldn't be surprised coming from Novell ), but then you try to manage Groupwise...and find the only tool available for that is in Console one. Which itself is finicky about java and the windows version you are running.

eDirectory is...ok. The problems I always had with it were the sharp edges; if you weren't careful, you could cause seriously confusion problems my simply moving a user to a different container.

And then we have...zenworks. Wow, what a steaming pile of crap. Sure, it does neat things..but nothing Active Directory + WPKG can't accomplish better ( and maybe a vnc for remote desktop capabililties ). Having been forced to use this abomination of an "enterprise desktop management application", I have to honestly wonder about the competency of any tech that recommends it.

Those were the three things that killed Novell, IMHO. Had they tightened up their client and made it less resource intensive, cleaned up the management tools and added a little polish, I'm sure they'd still be a force to deal with for MS. Oh, and had they never never touched zenworks.

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OMG Microsoft are coming! Don't panic!

So much great software has been ruined by various CEO's panicking in the face of Microsoft 'coming for them'.

Netware could still have a niche market if they had just built the best products they could instead of trying to second guess, out think and out do the perceived Microsoft threat. NT was shite when it first came out but all they had to do was sell it on the 'common interface' FUD and wait for Netware to implode.

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Dead Vulture

Sad day

I have fond memories of using Netware in the late 90s when their administration and management tools were so much better than anything MS had to offer.

RIP

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MJI
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Dead Vulture

RIP Netware

Fantastic product, fondly remembered. Capable of very good uptimes.

I also remember the start of Windows servers and the degradation of performance, we had a few people move from NT to Netware to go faster.

Our database server vendor tests found a 4x quicker performance with Netware over NT on the same hardware.

But with the selling off of Novell, I think our last Netware using customers will be changing before long.

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