Novell Explained

Company Name:Novell, Inc.
Company Type:Subsidiary
Parent:The Attachmate Group
Company Slogan:Making IT Work as One.
Foundation:1979
Key People:Dennis Fairclough
Drew Major
Dale Neibaur
Kyle Powell
Num Employees:3,600 (December 2009)
Industry:Computer software
Products:Novell eDirectory
Novell Open Enterprise Server
Novell NetWare
Novell GroupWise
Novell ZENworks

Novell, Inc. (;) is a software and services company. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Attachmate Group. It specializes in network operating systems, such as Novell NetWare; systems management solutions, such as Novell ZENworks; and collaboration solutions, such as Novell Groupwise and Novell Vibe.

Novell was instrumental in making the Utah Valley a focus for technology and software development. Novell technology contributed to the emergence of local area networks, which displaced the dominant mainframe computing model and changed computing worldwide. Today, a primary focus of the company is on developing open source software for enterprise clients.

History

Novell owes its beginnings to the Eyring Research Institute (ERI) in Provo, Utah. Dennis Fairclough, Drew Major, Dale Neibaur and Kyle Powell left ERI and took with them the experience and technology to found Novell. Fairclough was the member of the original team that started Novell Data Systems. Major, Neibaur and Powell went on to form SuperSet Software. Fairclough was the original founder of Novell, who was dismissed when Ray Noorda came to Novell. Major, Neibaur and Powell continued to support Novell through their SuperSet Software Group.

At ERI, Fairclough, Major, Neibaur and Powell worked on government contracts for the Intelligent Systems Technology Project, and gained an important insight into the ARPANET and related technologies, ideas which would become crucial to the foundation of Novell.

The company began in 1979 in Provo, Utah as Novell Data Systems Inc., a hardware manufacturer producing CP/M-based systems. It was co-founded by George Canova, Darin Field, and Jack Davis. Victor V. Vurpillat brought the deal to Pete Musser, chairman of the board of Safeguard Scientifics, Inc., who provided the seed funding. The micro computer that was produced by the company was comparatively weak against performance by competitors. In order to compete on systems sales Novell wrote a program to link more than one to operate micro computer together. The company initially did not do well, and both Davis and Canova left the firm. The Safeguard board then ordered Musser to shut Novell down. Musser contacted two Safeguard investors and investment bankers, Barry Rubenstein and Fred Dolin, who guaranteed to raise the necessary funds to continue the business as a software company. Novell's networking program could work on computers from other companies. They, along with Jack Messman, interviewed and hired Raymond Noorda. The required funding was obtained through a rights offering to Safeguard shareholders, managed by the Cleveland brokerage house, Prescott, Ball and Turben, and guaranteed by Rubenstein and Dolin.

In January 1983, the company's name was shortened to Novell, Inc., and Raymond Noorda became the head of the firm. Later that same year, the company introduced its most significant product, the multi-platform network operating system (NOS), Novell NetWare.

NetWare

The first Novell product was a proprietary hardware server based on Motorola 6800 CPU supporting 6 MUX ports per board for a maximum of 4 boards per server using a star topology with twisted pair cabling. A network interface card (NIC) was developed for the IBM PC industry standard architecture (ISA) bus. The server was using the first network operating system (NOS) called ShareNet. Later, ShareNet was ported to run on the Intel platform and renamed NetWare. The first commercial release of NetWare was version 1.5.

Novell based its network protocol on Xerox Network Systems (XNS), and created its own standards from IDP and SPP, which it named Internetwork Packet Exchange (IPX) and Sequenced Packet Exchange (SPX). File and print services ran on the NetWare Core Protocol (NCP) over IPX, as did Routing Information Protocol (RIP) and Service Advertising Protocol (SAP).

NetWare uses Novell DOS (formerly DR-DOS) as a boot loader. Novell DOS is similar to MS-DOS and IBM PC-DOS, but no extra license for DOS is required; this came from the acquisition of Digital Research in 1991. Novell had already acquired Kanwal Rekhi's company Excelan, which manufactured smart ethernet cards and commercialized the internet protocol TCP/IP, solidifying Novell's presence in these niche areas.

It was around this time also that Ed Tittel of HTML For Dummies notoriety became involved with Novell. Tittel took up various positions within the newly acquired Excelan, becoming national marketing manager for Novell, before being named as Novell's director of technical marketing.

Novell did extremely well throughout the 1980s. It aggressively expanded its market share by selling the expensive ethernet cards at cost. By 1990, Novell had an almost monopolistic position in NOS for any business requiring a network.

With this market leadership, Novell began to acquire and build services on top of its NetWare operating platform. These services extended NetWare's capabilities with such products as NetWare for SAA, Novell multi-protocol router, GroupWise and BorderManager.

Beyond NetWare

However, Novell was also diversifying, moving away from its smaller users to target large corporations, although the company later attempted to refocus with NetWare for Small Business. It reduced investment in research and was slow to improve the product administration tools, although it was helped by the fact its products typically needed little "tweaking" — they just ran.

In June 1993, the company bought Unix System Laboratories from AT&T,[1] acquiring rights to the Unix operating system, seemingly in an attempt to challenge Microsoft. In 1994, Novell bought WordPerfect, as well as the Quattro Pro from Borland. These acquisitions did not last. Novell in 1995 assigned portions of its Unix business to the Santa Cruz Operation. WordPerfect and Quattro Pro were sold to Corel in 1996. Novell DOS was also sold to Caldera in 1996.

As Novell faced new competition, Noorda was replaced by Robert Frankenberg in 1994,[2] and was followed by several CEOs who served short terms. One of Novell's major innovations at the time was Novell Directory Services (NDS), now known as eDirectory. Introduced with NetWare v4.0. eDirectory replaced the old Bindery server and user management technology employed by NetWare 3.x and earlier.

In 1996, the company began a move into internet-enabled products, replacing reliance on the proprietary IPX protocol in favor of a native TCP/IP stack. The move was accelerated when Eric Schmidt became CEO in 1997 and then Christopher Stone was brought in. The result was NetWare v5.0, released in October 1998, which leveraged and built upon eDirectory and introduced new functions, such as Novell Cluster Services (NCS, a replacement for SFT-III) and Novell Storage Services (NSS), a replacement for the Traditional/FAT filesystem used by earlier versions of NetWare. While NetWare v5.0 introduced native TCP/IP support into the NOS, IPX was still supported, allowing for smooth transitions between environments and avoiding the "forklift upgrades" frequently required by competing environments. Similarly, the Traditional/FAT file system remained a supported option.

However, by 1999, Novell had lost its dominant market position, and was continually being out-marketed by Microsoft, which gained access to corporate data centers by bypassing technical staff and selling directly to corporate executives. Microsoft worked to make NetWare look second place with Windows 2000 features such as Group Policy. Microsoft's GUI was also more popular and looked more modern than the character-based Novell interfaces. With falling revenue, the company focused on net services and platform interoperability. Products such as eDirectory and GroupWise were made multi-platform.

In October 2000, Novell released a new product, dubbed DirXML, which was designed to synchronize data, often user information, between disparate directory and database systems. This product leveraged the speed and functionality of eDirectory to store information, and would later become the Novell Identity Manager and form the foundation of a core product set within Novell.

In July 2001, Novell acquired the consulting company, Cambridge Technology Partners, founded in Cambridge, MA by John J. Donovan, to expand offerings into services. Novell felt that the ability to offer solutions (a combination of software and services) was key to satisfying customer demand. The merger was apparently against the firm's software development culture, and the finance personnel at the firm also recommended against it. The CEO of CTP, Jack Messman, engineered the merger using his position as a board member of Novell since its inception and soon became CEO of Novell as well. He then hired back Chris Stone as vice chairman and CEO to set the course for Novell's strategy into open source and enterprise Linux. With the acquisition of CTP, Novell moved its headquarters to Massachusetts.[3]

In July 2002, Novell acquired SilverStream Software, a leader in web services-oriented application, but a laggard in the marketplace. The business area called Novell exteNd contains XML and Web Service tools based on Java EE.

Linux for Business

In August 2003, Novell acquired Ximian, a developer of open source Linux applications (Evolution, Red Carpet and Mono). This acquisition signaled Novell's plans to move its collective product set onto a Linux kernel.

In November 2003, Novell acquired SuSE, a developer of a leading Linux distribution, which led to a major shift of power in Linux distributions. IBM also invested $50 million to show support of the SuSE acquisition. Within the openSUSE project, Novell continues to contribute to SUSE Linux. openSUSE can be downloaded freely and available as boxed retail product [4] with formal support.[5]

In mid-2003, Novell released "Novell eNterprise Linux Services" (NNLS), which ported some of the services traditionally associated with NetWare to SUSE LINUX Enterprise Server (SLES) version 8.

In November 2004, Novell released the Linux-based enterprise desktop Novell Linux Desktop v9. This product was based on Ximian Desktop and SUSE Linux Professional 9.1. This was Novell's first attempt to get into the enterprise desktop market.

The successor product to NetWare, Open Enterprise Server, was released in March 2005. OES offers all the services previously hosted by NetWare v6.5, and added the choice of delivering those services using either a NetWare v6.5 or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server v9 kernel. The release was aimed to persuade NetWare customers to move to Linux.

Stagnation

From 2003 through 2005 Novell released many products across its portfolio, with the intention of arresting falling market share and to move away from dependencies on other Novell products, but the launches were not as successful as Novell had hoped. In late 2004, Chris Stone left the company after an apparent control issue with then Chairman Jack Messman.[6] In an effort to cut costs, Novell announced a round of layoffs in late 2005. While revenue from its Linux business continued to grow, the growth was not fast enough to stop the decrease in revenue of NetWare. While the company's revenue was not falling rapidly, it wasn't growing, either. Lack of clear direction or effective management meant that Novell took longer than expected to complete its restructuring.

In June 2006, chief executive Jack Messman and chief finance officer Joseph Tibbetts were fired, with Ronald Hovsepian, Novell's president and chief operating officer, appointed chief executive, and Dana Russell, vice-president of finance and corporate controller, appointed interim CFO.

"Your Linux is Ready"

In August 2006, Novell released the SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 (SLE 10) series. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server was the first enterprise class Linux server to offer virtualization based on the Xen hypervisor. SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (popularly known as SLED) featured a new user-friendly GUI and XGL-based 3D display capabilities. The release of SLE 10 was marketed with the phrase "Your Linux is Ready", meant to convey that Novell's Linux offerings were ready for the enterprise. In late September 2006 Novell announced a real time version of SLES called SUSE Linux Enterprise Real Time (SLERT) based on technology from Concurrent Computer Corporation.

On November 2, 2006, Novell and Microsoft announced a joint patent agreement to cover their respective products.[7] [8] They also promised to work more closely, to improve compatibility of software, setting up a joint research facility. Executives of both companies hope such cooperation will lead to better compatibility between Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org and better virtualization techniques.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said of the deal, "This set of agreements will really help bridge the divide between open-source and proprietary source software."[9]

The deal involves upfront payment of $348 million from Microsoft to Novell for patent cooperation and SLES subscription. Additionally, Microsoft will spend around $46 million yearly, over the next 5 years, for marketing and selling a combined SLES/Windows Server offering and related virtualization solutions, while Novell will pay at least $40 million yearly to Microsoft, in the same period.[10]

One of the first results of this partnership was that Novell adapted the OpenXML/ODF Translator for use in OpenOffice.org.[11]

Reaction of FOSS community

Initial reaction from members of the FOSS community over the patent protection was mostly critical, with expressions of concern that Novell had "sold out" and of doubt that the GPL would allow distribution of code, including the Linux kernel, under this exclusive agreement.[12] [13] [14]

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Grokline Project:Novell. Grokline. 2008-06-19.
  2. Fisher, Lawrence M. (April 6, 1994). Longtime Hewlett Executive Named Novell Chief. New York Times
  3. News: Cambridge-bound Novell pins recovery on CTP buy — Boston Business Journal:. Bizjournals.com. 2002-04-29. 2008-11-04. Phil. Sweeney.
  4. http://www.open-slx.com/doku.php
  5. http://www.open-slx.com/doku.php?id=support
  6. Web site: Cold Realities For Novell. Businessweek.com. 2008-11-04.
  7. Web site: Microsoft and Novell Announce Broad Collaboration on Windows and Linux Interoperability and Support. Microsoft.com. 2008-11-04.
  8. Web site: Steve Ballmer: Microsoft and Novell Collaboration Announcement. Microsoft.com. 2008-11-04.
  9. Web site: Microsoft makes Linux pact with Novell — CNET News.com. News.com.com. 2008-11-04.
  10. Web site: Novell gets $348 million from Microsoft. Linux-watch.com. 2008-11-04.
  11. http://download.novell.com/SummaryFree.jsp?buildid=ESrjfdE4U58%7E
  12. Web site: Groklaw — Novell Sells Out. Groklaw.net. 2008-11-04.
  13. Web site: Groklaw — The Morning After — Reactions to Novell-MS — Updated 2xs. Groklaw.net. 2008-11-04.
  14. Web site: Various responses to Microsoft/Novell [LWN.net] |publisher=Lwn.net |date= November 3, 2006 |author=corbet |accessdate=2008-11-04}].