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Novell Layoffs Coming This Month? 139

Posted by Zonk
from the tighten-your-belt dept.
Roblimo writes "Multiple sources close to and inside Novell have told us the company expects to lay off between 10% and 15% of all employees by the end of October. '...shareholders have suggested that Novell divest itself of its consulting group and GroupWise division, while at the same time instituting personnel cuts across the board to bring expenses more in line with revenues,' writes business columnist Lauren Rudd at NewsForge, who also notes that '[Novell's] NetWare revenue stream continues to deteriorate, declining by $36 million in fiscal 2004, excluding the impact of favorable foreign exchange rates.'" NewsForge is part of the same family of companies as Slashdot.
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Novell Layoffs Coming This Month?

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  • Is every time a company lays off its employees a civil rights issue? Maybe (as the cliche goes) in Soviet Russia. Or in an EU country like France or Germany, where workers get to enjoy lifetime employment (if they're able to get a job; given their high rate of unemployment, that's no sure thing) in exchange for a stagnant economy and a crushing tax burden. Here in our still-mostly-free capitalist economy, companies can hire and fire based on economic need rather than being stuck with bloated payroll that ma
    • Naturally, right after I posted, they stripped out the "Your Rights Online" in the headline. As Emily Latella used to say, "Never mind."

    • You see...well, there's no real easy way to put this. You know that performance in our area has been down for the last two quarters and, well, the board has really been pushing me hard on streamlining our processes...and, so, I'm afraid we've had to make some real tough personel decisions. I hope you understand that this is not a reflection of your work. We really do value you highly around here. It's just that...the board and all...

      -Eric

    • Or in an EU country like France or Germany, where workers get to enjoy lifetime employment (if they're able to get a job; given their high rate of unemployment, that's no sure thing) in exchange for a stagnant economy and a crushing tax burden.

      Lifetime employment in German companies? I hope, this was ment to be another cliche, but this was is not apparent from your wording. It probably is more difficult to lay off workers in Germany (and companies say it is too difficult), but it is of course possible and h
      • I work for a German company. The differences between me and my coworkers in Germany are striking. I don't get the vacations they do and I'm always the first to get laid off. They've had US employees for fifty years, but the "20 Year Employee" list consists solely of German names.
        • I work for a German company. The differences between me and my coworkers in Germany are striking. I don't get the vacations they do and I'm always the first to get laid off. They've had US employees for fifty years, but the "20 Year Employee" list consists solely of German names.

          I don't doubt that. But still your German coworkers don't have a garanteed live time employment, which the original poster seemed to claim.

          The German society values social security very high. That is why Germany has a very extensive
          • Working for a company like that is enournouslay beneficial for everyone. The US bullshit a sacking and rehiring and sacking etc. is a worthless idea fostered by idiot bean counters. The benefits of that kind of rentention are; a more reliable and loyal work force, workers can live close to their place of employment (significantly reducing associated costs, transport, traffic congestion, public transport is far more viable) and it also reduces the gap between management and workers).

            The alternate is a disl

    • A reported 45% is "crushing"?

      Better check that U.S. pay stub again, Buddy - it's pretty much the same deal here in the states. And that's not all, what of all of the hidden excise taxes we pay too?

      And what, you are another free market fanatic? Care to show me a country that actually has a free market anywhere in the world? Pretty please...?

      Right. You can't - mainly because it's all smoke and mirrors that favors the monied elites.

      Anyway, employment is a rights issue. Have you ever stopped to think that being
      • ROFL ROFL ROFL ROFL ROFL ROFL.
        You honestly believe that you should be given a job, money and personal wealth.
        How about get up and work for it yourself.
        See that is the thing here in the US. If you do your homework you will see time after time that the wealthy and rich in our country also started out as poor people. (The Great American Dream) It is possible.
        Well maybe not for people who think they should be given the spoils of someone eles hard labor.
        If you are too lazy to get up and fight for it then you do
        • by mankey wanker (673345) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:19PM (#13845809)
          > You honestly believe that you should be given a job, money and personal wealth.

          No. I think Capitalism is a failed experiment that doesn't treat all people the same way. The american dream is dead.

          Socialism makes far more sense, and most of the Western world agrees with me. Big shock. And at very nearly the same level of taxation as most socialist countries I just have to wonder what the government is doing with our money that we have so few services to show for it all.

          You and I both know they use our tax money to support their illegal war instead of helping out the poor and homeless in this country.

          Why are we trying to "gift" democracy to people half a world away instead of providing basic dignity and a solid education to the poor of our own country? I suppose they should just have to work for it all themselves, eh genius? I guess no one ever gave you a hand up or a real opportunity out of poverty?

          Classic american rightwing bullshit to not recognize how we are a nation built from the middle class out. You now earn your keep based on the struggles of former union workers and an epic battle for civil rights for all people regardless of race or gender. I guess those roads you drive on are just commie propaganda, right?
      • Who let Karl Marx in here?
      • Anyway, employment is a rights issue.

        No its really not, people need to try to understand what a right is before they go off half cocked about what a right is. A right is not something that is given to you, I cant *give* you the right to free speech I can only prevent myself from infringing on that right. A right is something you have because you're human, not something given to you by any government or body of people. The US bill of rights which is based in the philosophies of many European 17th and 18th

    • Why should people lose their jobs while CEOs get raises for layoffs?

      Libertarianism is all fun and games until a libertarian loses their job. Once it's your ass on the line, you'll change your tune in nanoseconds.

  • by fak3r (917687) on Friday October 21, 2005 @07:57AM (#13843672) Homepage
    Let's hope all the FOSS projects they support won't be effected; Hula / Beagle / Evolution / GNOME / LDTP / MONO / Mozilla / OpenOffice and UDDI are worked on by many employees. Last I heard they employed about 50 people just to work on Hula, and their overall view to FOSS has been excellent. Having worked with some of them on the project, I am amazed at the support they've recieved from Novell; let's hope it continues.
    • I really doubt it. FOSS is what Novell is betting the business on. They will be scaling back on their older, more obselete divisions and products, rather than what they see to be the companies future.
      • "FOSS is what Novell is betting the business on."

        I am a very, very small investor in NOVL, but I bought their shares based on their prospects of reinventing themselves as a FOSS company. It sure wasn't because I expected them to revitalized Netware!

        Speaking only for myself, cutbacks in the non-FOSS areas of the company would increase my level of confidence that they have a future in FOSS. Conversely, cutbacks in FOSS would tell me that they are losing confidence in the concept. In that case, they will ne
        • The problem is that Novell makes more money off the old products than the total revenue of RedHat. If Novell were to just dump their old products they would have no more money to invest in Open source projects.

          And why should they dump old products that are still better than anything Microsoft has to offer.

          As a stockholder I would hate to see Novell go under by listening to a bunch of stupid stock holders interested in a short-term stock jump.

          • Yes, they need the cash from legacy products to facilitate production of the next generation -- same as any IT company. They are "harvesting" in one field, "planting" in another.

            "Why should [we] dump old products that are still better than anything Microsoft has to offer[?]" I'm sure the people at WordPerfect were saying the same thing in 1995. "This 'Microsoft Word' thing is nothing to worry about."

            A common source of failure is the tendency to over-estimate the longevity of cash cows while underestimatin
  • Having in mind that only now Kontact and Korganizer finally has means to provide seamless integration with GroupWise...
    I wish Novell good luck and wise decisions.
  • by hal2814 (725639) on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:03AM (#13843706)
    I worked at a University campus for a while where we used NetWare extensively. When I started there, Novell folks thought the world of NetWare. By the time I left, there were some serious concerns among the NetWare crowd. NWAdmin was being phased out by ConsoleOne (which is fine) but then the Wed-based manager (forget the name) came in and they claimed they were phasing out ConsoleOne. ConsoleOne was only a year or so old! At that time, we had to run three different admin frontends because each had their own quirks and were incompatible with some stuff. Their NetMail system was a bit of a disappointment performance-wise (but not feature-wise). It took them a LONG time to work out some serious kinks in IFolder (like changing the default directory of the local folder). There's also the problem that NetWare != Novell. A lot of the more popular pieces of Novell's lineup (GroupWise, ZenWorks, NetMail) can be run from a Windows server over Active Directory now.
    • ...but then the Wed-based manager (forget the name)...

      iManager [novell.com]

    • A lot of the more popular pieces of Novell's lineup (GroupWise, ZenWorks, NetMail) can be run from a Windows server over Active Directory now.

      Difference is that AD sucks, whereas Netware/eDirectory does not. I'm pretty sure that if I ever get an ulcer, it's because of the stress AD gives me... Wanna do something relatively simple (like, create a group with certain members, and give that group access to certain folders)? Here, go through these zillion dialog-boxes, and click around dozens of times! Oh, if yo

    • I think consolidation would be good for Novell at this point. They offer A LOT of services and software. Not all of them being highly profitable. However, though not seeing the numbers, I can't imagine groupwise being a loser for them. In fact, I consider it to be one of their stronger products. Instead of dumping certain services all together, I think certain products should be dropped and their engineers refocused. For example, they used to (still might?) have a radius server. Currently they put resources
  • Where are India and Outsourcing/Offshoring? Can't find that anywhere in the report!
  • by mpapet (761907) on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:11AM (#13843750) Homepage
    The writing has been on the wall for them. They've got Microsoft, Sun, Red Hat and a few others desperate to eat their lunch.

    My understanding is they have some good products, but when you've got Microsoft paying to switch your best resellers over to MS, I don't really see where Novell's got a defensible market position.

    I have a feeling that Novell's success would be viewed as a substantial failure on Microsoft's part.
    • All of what you said may or may not be true, but regardless, Novell is a highly mismanaged company. Most investors are jumping ship until Novell revamps. They've consistenly been severly underperforming for quite a few quarters now. I wouldn't be surprised if Novell jumped ship on the Linux train and sold Suse off. Novell is just testing the linux waters, if it turns out not to be as good as they thought, they will simply move on to the next thing as they've always done. Anyway, in the next few months expec
    • Nonsense. The long term status for Novell is great. They are not in the red nor have they been for some time. Yes, NetWare could be in the toilet, but they have known that for quite some time now - Duh, that is why they went to Linux. That is one reason they are relevant for the long term.

      It is the short term that the investors are concerned about. Novell's total revenue has remained steady but not growing as everyone thought it should and the investors are getting ansy.

      Common everyone, keep it i
  • instituting personnel cuts across the board

    What a good idea .. think of how much money getting rid of half the directors sitting on the company's board would save! Not just from their salaries, but also from their inability to utilize workers to gain revenue growth and customer satisifaction. This would also block them from getting rid of people who will actually do work.

    I am going to buy Novell stock when they do this.
    • What a good idea .. think of how much money getting rid of half the directors sitting on the company's board would save!

      Agreed and not only those. There are a few wielding director of something or other titles, actually regularly spreading FUD against main Novel products and part of their company product portfolio. I think it's time to get rid of those too.
      • I live in the Provo, Utah area, and I am close to several people who *currently* work for Novell. Laying people off is not a new trend for Novell, but has been going on for many years, and will likely continue for many more, as long as the current CEO Jack Messman and his current collection of board members stick around.

        Despite the steady decline in company profits, the head management of Novell continue to draw (relatively) massive paychecks every year. This isn't a question of whether they deserve it,

  • Rudderless Ship (Score:4, Insightful)

    by N8F8 (4562) on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:14AM (#13843757)
    Novell has all the components of a solid business, just not the vision. Just look at their homepage [novell.com] - does it tell you who they are or what they have planned for the future?
    • Well, the first line on the page says: Software for the open enterprise. And as for not telling you who they are or what they have planned, the same seems to be true for the Microsoft homepage.
    • All I have to do now is "Learn about a complete Linux solution."

      That should be interesting, since I've never seen one of those.

      -Eric

    • does it tell you who they are or what they have planned for the future?

      Actually, yes, it does tell you a fair bit about who they are and what their vision is. It's just not flashy. but all the information's right there on the first page.

    • does it tell you who they are or what they have planned for the future?

      According to the flash animation, they plan to shoot people. And not just any people-- they shot the managers.
  • NetWare *was* way ahead of it's time. 10 years ago, it did things (with an ugly gui and expensive admin) that the MS world didn't start until only a few years ago.

    SUSE had a lot of potential. These days, for me, it's much easier to install Linux than Windows (assuming you don't have wacky hardware).

    I especially liked SUSE for being the first to include Handicap accessibility features into KDE.

    SUSE is still out there and a major player, I just hope they don't get hit too hard - I really think they have a c
  • Great Cut the feet right out from under them.. Lets see how well novel can compete in the linux market place with not enough people to do the job.. People will be stressed out and production and serivce will suffer, thus customers will leave and new customers will shy away.

    Hey Share holders: That's one great way to kill a company!

    • Lets see how well novel can compete in the linux market place with not enough people to do the job.. People will be stressed out and production and serivce will suffer, thus customers will leave and new customers will shy away.

      Believe it or not, shareholders aren't out to hurt themselves, and they generally aren't complete idiots. Companies lay off workers when they have too *many* workers, not too few. Otherwise, they hire new employees. But when their revenue falls (as is the case here), they can't spe
  • It's like an 80s band that maybe stayed around too late. I was at a tech conference in Orlando this week for IT in higher ed. and Novell was representing in the exhibitor hall. Admittedly, they're trying hard, just no one was sitting through their presentations (even with the standard t-shirt/ipod giveaways...

    --pete
    • If they are trying, that's an improvement! About a year ago, I was looking at making a license purchase for a non-profit client of mine. I talked with a Novell sales representative (via their webchat) about nonprofit pricing, and was met with great reluctance to even give a price quote (or point me to someone who could). I tried again later, and the second rep. grudgingly gave me price quotes but actually said something like "our non-profit prices aren't very good." (The client switched to an MS platform)

      Wi
    • I was running one of the Novell booths at the exhibition hall, and I was busy all week with people who seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say-- and I can tell the difference between spiff-hunters and real leads.

      My preferred metaphor is the girl next door that you used to like, but ignored all through high school, and she shows up at the dance in a new dress and suddenly you have to look at her again. Novell's more than Netware-- did you know ZEN management runs on Windows and Linux too?-- and it'
  • Long time coming (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by Lxy (80823)
    So long Novell. Your once great networking empire has been squashed. Your great software will no longer be known to the world. Rest in peace.

    Novell has been in a downward spiral ever since Eric Shmidt left to start Google. Netware 4 was the best freaking NOS on the planet. It was stable, it was light, and it's still compatible with most of Netware's product line to date.

    Since then, Novell quality has been slipping. Netware 6.5 is absolutely abismal. It's bloated, it's slow, it's unstable, it's Window
    • Exactly.

      Netware 4 was the best but Novell just started blowing it in the late 90s. I came on as a Netware admin in 1996-97 and once you got the thing set up, Netware admining consisted of surfing /. and once in a while going up stairs, flicking on the monitors to make sure the "snakes" were still crawling around the screens.

      Migrating to 5 was a disappointment, we had some migration issues in the spring of '00 and Novell was already sliding, Macintosh support was garbage, they outsourced the client and charg
      • WTF are you talking about?

        Netware 4.0, 4.01 and 4.02 were POS horrible things with terrible stability and NDS was as steady as Jell-o

        Netware 4 was one of the main reasons people didn't upgrade from the rock-solid Netware 3.11, giving MS plenty of time to create a nice upgrade path to NT 3.51 complete with license-busting MS Netware gateways.

        Only when Netware 4.1 came along did it start to get good. By then, fewer people cared, having been scarred by the experiences with the previous versions.

        I've been a CN
  • by Scott7477 (785439) on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:27AM (#13843825) Homepage Journal
    When Cambridge Technology Partners merged with Novell, one of the major selling points was that combining consulting services with Novell's products would produce growth. If Novell's investors have decided to split off the consulting business, this is an admission that Novell's entire strategy for however long it's been since the CTP purchase has been a failure.

    I don't know what proportion of Novell's employees are in the Linux/OSS area, but in my opinion these are the only ones to keep. The rest of the business has been in shrinkage mode for many years. I used to work at a large manufacturing company near Novell's operations in Utah, and that company switched from Netware to Microsoft server software about 10 years ago. At the time, I thought that if Novell couldn't keep customers in its own backyard, it was probably doomed. It is amazing how long it takes to kill off an enterprise.

    Ironically, Novell finished building about a 12 story office tower in Provo around the time that the Cambridge Technology Partners merger went through. That building is probably worth as much as the IP rights to Netware now.
    • Postscript to my previous script: I went and read the linked story and the key quote from that is that the author estimates that Novell has enough cash for 1 year of operations. If that is the case, in my opinion the company should just be liquidated. The company is obviously not bringing in any significant amount of cash through its Linux based operations. Perhaps they could get a little bit of cash by selling the Linux operations. The only company that I can think of that would be a candidate would p
    • CTP is not Novell's entire strategy. It was a failed bid to sell more comprehensive services to existing customers. Novell's real strategy is to use SuSE as a migration path away from Netware for Netware customers. The problem is that SuSE revenues don't come anywhere near replacing the declining Netware revenues.

      Novell is, however, flush with cash, slightly profitable, and nowhere close to going bankrupt. Nor is the Netware revenue in such steep decline that bankruptcy is even conceivable at this point

  • Novell had a pretty good server level product from 3.12 on. But then they stagnated.

    But there is hope. At least the world is starting to embrace open source.

    Who wants to start the betting on how soon MS will have to wipe 30% of its workforce?
  • Lol, stockholders (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:28AM (#13843838)
    "...shareholders have suggested that Novell divest itself of its consulting group and GroupWise division..."

    In other news, shareholders have also suggested that Microsoft needs to dump Office, and Apple should just stop with the iPod thing already.

    You know, eDirectory is nice and all, but I promise you there are more than a few Netware shops out there who continue to be Netware shops primarly because of Groupwise.
    • "I promise you there are more than a few Netware shops out there who continue to be Netware shops primarly because of Groupwise."

      Yeah I always liked groupwise. In fact Novell just sent me a demo copy of Groupwise for Linux. I have been looking forward to playing with it next time I am home.

  • by Pecisk (688001) on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:30AM (#13843851)
    That it is really transition and how far I have seen and heard, shareholders all agree that Linux is Novell future. They just want management to know that they have to do very best not to slip in minuses - which is quite ok, because it _is_ their money, really.

    About layoffs - so far I am only worried about Groupwise, which I see a only real-life replacement (in price and features) for Exchange. Yes, there are lot of open source solutions, but none of them perfectly integrates with Outlook - which is and will be important for some 10 - 15 years. I just hope that they know what they do. It would be sad that they would discontinue that product.

    In overall, I wish Novell luck and get some real big contracts in RedHat style and then I hope their future will be in brighter colours.
  • Revenue isn't aligned with expenses, so you cut expenses. Still not aligned. So you cut more. Still not aligned, so you cut to the bare bone, you cut the group that creates revenue. Yeah that's a long term solution.
  • "NewsForge is part of the same family of companies as Slashdot."
    Do some people feel the actual slashdot headline will be biased since there is a relationship there?
    • or maybe the fact that this story was chosen to be posted in the first place would be reason to have the disclaimer.

      k thx think before you post n00b. har har har~~~~~~
  • ..considering that my office is switching from a Novell server to a Windows server this evening.

    Personally, I don't mind. Right now we have to maintain two seperate user bases, our US domain and the Novell server. Which becomes a pain when a user resets their US domain password after it expires and calls up saying that they can't login to their computer when really it's because their domain and novell passwords are not synchronized.

    One annoying thing that I can forsee with the change is that, with our N
    • Personally, I don't mind. Right now we have to maintain two seperate user bases, our US domain and the Novell server. Which becomes a pain when a user resets their US domain password after it expires and calls up saying that they can't login to their computer when really it's because their domain and novell passwords are not synchronized.

      Well, if your office used Novell Identity Manager that wouldn't be a problem.
      I worked for a bank which had 600 Netware servers and 200 Win2k/Win2k3 servers, with over 5000
  • by FishandChips (695645) on Friday October 21, 2005 @09:52AM (#13844433) Journal
    Well, our thoughts are with Novell's staffers, surely. Losing your job is horrible.

    That said, there have been articles about Novell's financial outlook for a long while now and they've all pointed in the same direction: cash out greater than cash in, result misery. It's Mr Micawber all over.

    Hard to feel much sympathy for the major stockholders, though. Novell's strategy has always been a real gamble: growing a Linux base fast enough to offset the declining Netware and other bases. In essence, a race against time that the stockholders would have known was a real gamble. Even so, the recovery strategy outlined doesn't really add up. If you return the cash pile to the stockholders and sell off non-core and non-performing assets, you aren't left with much. And if you decimate R&D then Netware (which still has a lot of customers) could start to decline very fast indeed as users decide en masse that they are dealing with a husk or shell. That means Novell would be left standing with little more than Linux and therefore a juicy morsel for a takeover.

    Hmmn, I wonder if the Wall Street sharks are busy circling, sensing rich pickings from a squabble because damage to SUSE would be a tremendous embarrassment to a lender of last resort, namely IBM.

    Either way, in SUSE Linux Novell has one of the real jewels of the f/oss world, imho. They've put a lot of funds into SUSE and into other aspects of open source that benefit us all.
  • by scronline (829910) on Friday October 21, 2005 @09:57AM (#13844483) Homepage
    When I spoke with a salesmen about becoming a potential reseller/OEM of Suse, the salesman I was speaking with said "If you're only going to sell 2 or 3 licenses a month it's not worth my time. We want large deployments." He said that about 5 times in a 15 minute conversation.

    I might not be a $1mil/mth salesman, but I can tell you from a purchaser's perspective it doesn't matter how much or how little you sell, being told @#$% like that really just flat out ticks a person off. The specific job I was bidding on would have been 50 desktop licenses and 2 servers, but because of that kind of comments that were repeatedly said to me...well, Redhat won the contract instead of Suse.

    I've never really been impressed with Suse in the first place, but the customer had heard good things about it and wanted to go that direction to replace MS desktops and Novell servers in their business. After explaining the situation I had run into with the Suse sale tactics, they decided to follow my previous suggestion. So not only did they lose a customer that had specifically requested it, they lost a company that would have been selling their products and promoting it.

    So yeah, doing B.S. like that is going to hurt the bottom line and one can only hope that the salesman I spoke with is one that ends up on the unemployment line. Granted, it would take ALOT more than that to make me consider Suse again simply because that guy should NEVER have been allowed to be talking to the public about buying products.
    • When I spoke with a salesmen about becoming a potential reseller/OEM of Suse, the salesman I was speaking with said "If you're only going to sell 2 or 3 licenses a month it's not worth my time. We want large deployments." He said that about 5 times in a 15 minute conversation.

      It is sad, but I think large companies thinks in similar way. However, for salesman it's not acceptable behavour, because he could politely describe their company policy on resales. I think it is worth to let some higher at the company

      • Oh, I did. I sent emails out to 3 different people including the sales director, and wrote a letter to corp headquarters explaining why I would no longer consider using Suse in any small or large deployments. I was also good enough to include the salesman's name :)

        Sure large companies will want it that way, but turning away even one customer for sales is usually a bad idea no matter what your goals are. You never know when a small sale will turn into multi-million dollars.

        For example, MAS90 has a buttloa
  • Novell's future (Score:3, Insightful)

    by burnin1965 (535071) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:49AM (#13844954) Homepage
    A little history first. In the early 90s Novell was doing less than $500 million in revenue, but they were experiencing astounding growth. They were pulling in profit margins in the 80% range and the net income was in the hundreds of millions. By 1995 they were doing $2 billion in sales, after that things aren't quite so rosey. In two years Novell lost half of their 1995 revenue and were down to $1 billion in sales and net income on average was in the tens of millions. The peachy days of 80% profit margins and 50% year over year growth were gone. Up to today Novell has done a good job of maintaining their level of revenue at around $1 billion per year, however, the margins and net income are still in the gutter.

    As one of the average guys I hate it when we get nailed with layoffs, however, in 1995 when revenues were at the $2 billion level there were just over 7,000 employees at Novell, today at $1 billion in revenue there are over 6,000. To bring expenses in line with revenues I think there is no choice but to cut the head count. It sucks but its a fact.

    I don't think this spells the end for Novell and I don't think the open source projects supported by Novell need to worry, that is where Novell's future will be made. And Novell does have a future. If you look at how well Novell managed to hang on to their business with $1 billion in revenue from 1995 to 2005 with Microsoft trying to kill them off I think its obvious they still have lots of fight left in them. Now with open source upsetting the balance in the market Novell seems to be aligning themselves with the change. I think they are doing the right thing and they will succeed.
  • by DiamondGeezer (872237) on Friday October 21, 2005 @11:17AM (#13845221) Homepage
    It has great products, but a lousy, overbureaucratized management structure with lots and lots of layers of people whose sole functions are to shaft the people below them and survive the next purge by the people above. This makes for a fanatically strong political system, with lots and lots of people looking over their shoulders instead of looking forward.

    It is also centrally managed, Soviet-style, complete with multi-year plans and targets and Novell employees are regularly gathered together to compliment their leader for the overperformance on this meaningless metric, and the achievement of "difficult" targets in the teeth of a bitter competitive wind. As is usual in command enterprises, everywhere else other than Provo is treated as a satellite state. Only from Provo do all the ideas come, so if you're bright and have a great idea and don't work in Provo, don't bother telling anyone about it because they don't want to know. And if you persist they'll park you in a shitty job until you get the message and leave. Lots did.

    There should be a sign on all offices "Abandon initiative all ye who enter here". They have lots of meetings whose purpose is to crush all ideas from below and praise the crappy ones from above. Rebranding, corporate restructuring, departmental changes, layering, delayering, change management etc are regular 3-6 month occurences. During my five years there, I moved desks 16 times. Eventually you don't bother emptying boxes into your drawers because you know that another org change is just around the corner. The people adminsitering these changes never moved. It was uncanny.

    Initiatives come thick and fast from above and your only choices are to keep your mouth shut or be drowned in the slurry. At one time, everyone in Novell went through the Kepner-Trego rational decision making course, complete with little cards and posters on the wall and papers for people to do rational decisions on. The only problem with that, is in order for rational decision making, there must be rational decision makers, which in Novell is a joke. One month after the course nobody mentioned, let alone used, Kepner-Trego again.

    Then Novell merged with Cambridge Consulting (or was it Cambridge Consulting reversed into Novell?) Cambridge weren't doing very well. Novell weren't doing very well - the result would be a world-beater? Like to guess?

    Cambridge added a lot more consultants that Novell didn't need. In order to employ those extra consultants, Novell did the most obvious thing: it screwed its partners. So the partners who had done such sterling work promoting the Novell brand found that Novell itself was competing for those same customers to order to employ those extra consultants that Novell didn't need.

    With all of this could Novell make a profit through its Consulting arm? No. It charged twice as much and still managed to lose money because most of the time, it pitched for delivery times that were too short and had to use up all of the profit and then some to pay its consultants past the end date in order to deliver at all. Thus Novell managed to screw its partners and fail to make a profit. The perfect result for its competitors. One customer I consulted for that after their experience, they would never use Novell Consulting again (this was one of the largest privately-held companies on the planet).

    Novell joined the Linux field too late and bought the wrong company (should have been Red Hat). It bought SilverStream for too much money. It's been behind the curve for lots of new products too often.

    It's testing and quality of software are terrible. More often than not, products would be shipped with key pieces of functionality missing pending the first or second service pack. The software would work, but you had to wait to be able to deploy it meaningfully.

    Novell should be bought by somebody who knows how to run an enterprise for profit. Instead its run by people who know only how to cover their own asses and rule by fear. I guarantee you, any turnaround specialist would perform a decapitation of Novell's byzantine management structure to stand any chance.

    You read it here first on /.

    • Yea I heard something like this often, I know a few people who said they could get me a job there, but I know some old timers that say to stay away, because they hire/fire people so often (same people most of the time) that it is a mess. (and this is in the provo office)
  • Don't divest GroupWise. Get rid of the crappy acquisitions: SilverStream (worst attempted integration ever) and Cambridge (which is probably impossible at this point). Why divest good products (GroupWise, ZENWorks, NetWare/OES). With the exception of the recent oss acquisitions (ximian, suse), their track record is abysmal. I mean, why buy Silverstream. What does that do for your offerings? Does anyone out there actually use this? You paid a ton for nothing. Why buy Cambridge? Cambridge didn't even
    • so maybe selling groupwise is a way to kill of netware by stealth. If a novell site moves from groupwise, that puts netware under enormous pressure and would probably go to. The only reason alot of netware customers keep netware is that their file/print and email systems run on netware. No groupwise, no netware. Then, Novell ends up focussed on their identity stuff (including identity based resource management like zen), and their open source stuff. Sure, folks will lose their jobs, and that'll be sad,
  • Novell is a great company with a lot of good management products. Novell's biggest problem is tha they don't have a well defined and well marketed problem.

    Their other big problem is that some products like Zenworks are still clunky products. I am really suprised that IBM did not acquire them years ago. There has been 3 different negotiations over the years. IBM IBM had acquired Novell back in the 1997 timeframe Microsoft would have come under a lot of pressure. At the time OS/2 Warpserver was number 3 and s
  • 30-40% of Novell's work force will be laid off in this round. Just you all wait and see. All of the other estimates are low.

    This is not the beginning of the end, just one of the many death throes of a once great company, overcome by greedy executives. I fear that Novell will be gone completely within 10 years.

    Sorry to sound so pessimistic, but I am right now.

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