Novell Quarterly Earnings Comments

As you may know, 11 of my 16 books have “NetWare” in the title. Many people ask why I quit writing NetWare books after my “Mastering NetWare 6” book came out in March 2002, almost exactly six years ago.

I had an offer from the publisher to get started on Mastering NetWare 6.5 and then probably for Mastering NetWare 7, but Novell ruined it for me at their yearly BrainShare conference. They were about to release details of NetWare 6.5, but all the executives talked about during private sessions and during huge keynote speeches was how NetWare 7 would be so cool and based on Linux. Their fascination with Linux replacing NetWare was far beyond normal “look what’s coming” hype.

It didn’t take a genius to realize Novell executives had completely sold themselves on the idea that NetWare should give way to Linux of some flavor. Ever executive, to a man and woman, came close to spitting when they said “NetWare” and genuflecting when they said “Linux.” Every discussion of NetWare 6.5 quickly veered away into how wonderful life would be when Linux took over as the leading Novell product line.

Hmm. Let’s go to the videotape (yes, an old reference). Novell released their quarterly earnings last week, and they make a big deal about Linux revenues rising 65 percent. Sounds good, right? But dollars tell a different story, because Linux Platform Products only contributed $28 million to the revenue total of $231 million for the quarter.

Novell is not yet a Linux company, Novell is only a Linux iceberg. Just like an iceberg, only 10 percent of the “company,” meaning Linux in Novell executive’s eyes, is visible. The other 90 percent, which Novell lists but doesn’t say the word NetWare, provides the bulk of the company.

Stock price at Novell peaked at $42.43 in January 2000 and has slid from there, like many techology companies. When I bailed from writing more NetWare books after seeing the BrainShare conference, stock was about $13.50. Stock price at the time of the recent earnings report was $6.75. While other technology companies rebounded after the bubble burst in early 2001, Novell continues heading downhill.

I’ll talk more about Novell if you want, but it just gets me angry. Idiot executives took NetWare, the fastest, most reliable, and most secure server operating system available, and threw it into the garbage. Such a waste.

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