Chairman and CEO of Novell
Interview with Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P.
This week, Stephen Ibaraki, ISP, has an
exclusive interview with Jack Messman, Chairman, and CEO of Novell.
Jack graduated from the University of Delaware with a BSc in chemical
engineering and received his MBA with Distinction from the Harvard School of
Prior executive roles include: President and Chief Executive Officer of
Cambridge Technology Partners where he led its growth as an international
e-business services provider since 1999 (Messman joined the Cambridge Board
of Directors in 1992); Chairman and CEO of Union Pacific Resources Group Inc.
(UPRG), a North American independent oil and gas exploration and production
company; Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of U.S. Pollution Control,
Inc., Union Pacific's environmental services company; Managing Director of
Mason Best Company of Houston, an investment banking firm; Chairman and CEO
of Somerset House Corporation, a publishing company owned by Mason Best;
Executive Vice President-Chief Financial Officer and a member of the Board of
Directors for Warner Amex Cable Communications, Inc.; Executive Vice
President and member of the Board of Directors of Safeguard Scientifics,
Inc.; President and CEO of Novell, Inc. from 1982-1983; President and CEO of
Norcross Inc., a consumer products company; and, prior to 1973, as a partner
in a Philadelphia investment banking firm.
Q: With your busy schedule, it’s a real pleasure to have you come in and
share your valuable insights with the audience. Thank you for agreeing to this
A: My pleasure. I appreciate the opportunity.
Q: Your list of accomplishments and executive roles are impressive indeed!
Which ones standout foremost in your mind and what lessons can you share with
A: I’ve been doing this for a long time, so I’ve got many alternatives. I’d
have to say that, doing what I’m doing now is the biggest challenge, but also
the most rewarding. I was present at the creation of Novell, having been
involved in the VC that funded the company back in the early 1980s, and
having helped launch Novell as the world’s first real networking company.
Now, to be back as Novell strives to provide important new solutions in the
Web-based world is a great closing of the circle. And very exciting, too,
because we’re better positioned now to take advantage of the networked world
than we’ve ever been.
Q: From a context of past, present and future, what drives you to do what you
A: Business is a challenge, like a puzzle. You know that great feeling when
you get that final piece and finish that puzzle? Being a CEO is like working
a puzzle. You have complex processes, products, and people that you’re trying
to pull together to build something. In technology, you’ve got constantly
changing products and a market that is a moving target, so it makes it even
harder. But when you get it all together, it’s very satisfying. I’m striving
toward that with Novell today.
Q: What are Novell’s current vision, mission and roles, strategies and values
and how will they evolve over the next ten years?
A: We’ve had a steady vision since early 2000 - “one Net.” We envision a
world where all networks work together to securely connect employees,
customers, suppliers and partners. For us, the future of business and
technology is a world where there are no information boundaries-between
applications, operating systems, and databases; across enterprises and
functions and between customers, employees, partners and suppliers. This
allows the right people to be connected with the right information at the
Our mission is to help our customers profit from the opportunities this one
Net world provides. We’re becoming a very customer-focused company, something
we haven’t always been. It used to be that we’d build great technology that
did lots of neat technical things, but didn’t gain traction in the market.
Now we’re very focused on solving customer problems. We’re developing
solutions from the customer backward, not from the lab forward.
I don’t see the vision changing over the next 10 years. That’s why it’s a
vision. In fact, we expect to see it validated. People really will have
access to their key information anytime, anywhere, on any device, but with
the security and privacy then want. That’s our vision, and it’s where the market
Q: Where is Novell in its journey in leading the world in offering business
solutions through technology? What is your current market-share and where do
you forecast it to be in 2005 and 2007?
A: We’re making important strides, although, given the poor IT market over
the last few years, it has been a difficult journey. Last fall, we took an
important step – re-branding and marketing Novell’s solutions around three
focus areas – secure identity management, which we call Novell Nsure; web
applications development and integration, Novell exteNd; and cross-platform
network services, Novell Nterprise. And we tie this all together with
business and technical expertise and support, Novell Ngage.
With our acquisition of Cambridge Technology Partners in 2001 and
SilverStream Software in 2002, the market was a bit unsure of what Novell was
all about. Well, this is it – with exteNd, Nsure, and Nterprise solutions, we
help customers build, secure and deploy business process in a Web
It’s tough to talk about market share because Novell is in many markets.
Clearly, we’ve lost market share in the network operating system space,
primarily to Microsoft, over the last eight years, partly due to our mistakes
and partly due to Microsoft’s market power. We have recognized the need to do
something to reverse this decline of NetWare. Recently, we announced we’ll be
putting our network services on both the NetWare and Linux kernels going
forward, which significantly increases the addressable market for Novell.
We’ve expanded market share in other areas. We’re an acknowledged leader in
secure identity management, where we have over a billion licenses for our
eDirectory technology in the market. We’re growing that business at a rate of
over 30% year on year. We have a strong share in managing resources on a
network with our ZENworks product line. Our GroupWise collaboration offerings
People like to equate Novell with NetWare. That’s old thinking. NetWare is,
and will remain, a great platform. But Novell has much more than just the
platform to offer.
Q: What thoughts can you provide to businesses concerning integration
challenges, solutions, and long-term strategies?
A: When you’re bringing together companies, move quickly, move decisively,
and don’t forget culture. Getting organizations focused on a common goal –
for Novell, it’s the customer – does wonders toward driving diverse corporate
Q: Where does Linux factor in Novell’s medium-term strategy?
A: We’re big fans of Linux. As I mentioned, we will be putting the network
services found in NetWare on the Linux kernel in our next major NetWare
release, which we’d expect around late 2004/early 2005. We already provide a
series of services for Linux, including identity management, messaging, and
resource management. Novell eDirectory, NetMail, ZENworks for Servers, and
other products already run on Linux. We’ve had strong cross-platform
credentials for four years now, since we took eDirectory off of NetWare and
made it run on Windows and Solaris in 1999 and Linux in 2000. This move to
embrace Linux more strongly is a logical progression for us, and greatly
increases our potential market.
We’re already hearing from customers who are now reconsidering thoughts of
moving away from NetWare based on our Linux commitment. This is great for
Novell, and it’ll give customers a new, powerful set of network services for
Linux from a trusted name in enterprise computing. It’s a win-win.
Q: What have been the results of Novell’s web-services initiative?
A: I wouldn’t call our web services approach an initiative. That makes it
sound temporary. Web services have been overused as a term. Basically, we
think of Web services as enabling what’s called a services-oriented
architecture. This is all about extracting information from different silos
and systems, repurposing it, and making it available to individuals or
applications that need it. This requires standards and open platforms. We’ve
got all that, thanks to our SilverStream acquisition. What we also add – and
what’s been missing from the broader Web services scenario in the market
today – is security through our identity management capabilities. Web
services, to be effective, have to be delivered to the right person or
application, at the right time. Directory technology is key to this. So
Novell offers secure Web services, which is an important differentiator. So,
we think we’re doing very well on web services.
Q: Please comment on Novell’s strategies in areas like: access, identity
management, security, privacy protection, empowering a mobile workforce,
building customer relationships, provisioning, network management, and
A: If you look at all these issues, they revolve around identity. Who can see
what? On what device? Who has access to what applications? How can devices on
a network interact with one another? This is Novell’s sweet spot.
For individuals, identity management is about getting my information on
whatever device I want, regardless of where I am. We do that with Novell
Nsure solutions. If I’m a corporation, managing my customers means delivering
to them what they want, when they want it. Knowing who they are, is step one.
Knowing their rights relative to my organization allows me to automate what they
get from me. So a supplier will get access to a certain set of information
and applications while a partner gets access to a different set.
Similarly, managing resources on a network depends on identifying and putting
into place policies for the various elements of the network – users, servers,
laptops, PDAs, and so on. Putting these different network identities in a
directory is a great way to do this. And that’s what we do with our resource
management solutions using ZENworks.
Q: Where do you see Novell today, in two years, and in five years?
A: Novell today provides secure identity management, web application
development and integration (secure Web services), and cross-platform
services. In two years, we’ll have significantly expanded our ability to
deliver all these solutions in a Linux environment. In five years, we expect
to be one of the leading technology companies helping customers maximize the
value of their information, both in terms of cutting their costs and
providing new ways to drive revenue.
Despite the fact that we had the dotcom bust, the Internet will continue to
dominate technology for the foreseeable future. It is not uncommon for new
technology to experience explosive growth, suffer a correction, and then
return to a normal growth pattern.
With the growth of the Internet will come the growth of Web services, where
users outside the firewall will need access to corporate systems and
information. Companies want to allow the world to come through the open door,
but have some control over who that is. Novell has the technologies to
facilitate these interactions in a secure way. Companies also want to allow
this interaction without having to rip and replace their existing
infrastructure. Novell has the technologies to repurpose existing databases
and applications to allow this interaction in a low-cost way.
Q: Do you see a future for the Open Source movement and if so, how do you see
it evolving in the next three to five years? How will Novell coordinate with
A: Open source is a great model for developing software, particularly in
areas where the underlying technology is mature. Linux is a strong operating
system, MySQL a great database, Apache a powerful web server. Having lots of
eyeballs looking at software helps to make it stable, cuts down on bugs, and
helps drive security. So we expect Open Source will continue to grow. That
said, we believe there will continue to be great opportunities for a company
like Novell to deliver services that run on, and leverage, open source
technologies. It’s not an either-or scenario. We already work closely with a
number of open source initiatives and communities, including openLDAP,
Apache, and others. We’ve developed a new website, the Novell Forge, to
become more systematic in our interaction with the open source community.
Q: Since the early 1990s’ there was a shift amongst companies where IT
decisions were being made by the business managers looking at the business
case for making IT purchases; and this was a change from the hard core
technical types in years past that made these decisions. Novell always was a
technology leader. How are you strengthening Novell’s presence and even
growing the Novell brand to the business community?
A: Novell’s acquisition of Cambridge in 2001 was very much aimed at this
trend on technology decisions becoming business decisions. Thanks to
Cambridge’s business expertise, we now are much better at talking to the
business folks. We offer solutions, not just products. We bring an
understanding of business processes and vertical market needs, not just bits
and bytes, to the table. Our rebranding around the solution areas I’ve talked
about is designed to change the perception from Novell as a tech company to
Novell as a business solutions company.
We’re in the midst of our largest advertising campaign ever. It was designed
from the ground up to speak to the CXO level, not to the technology people.
Of course, we continue to provide great technology, and the technology guys
know it. But they’ve been asking us to “talk to my boss.” So we’re doing
Q: How will you be evolving Novell’s various channel strategies in the near
term and long term?
A: We took too much of a direct selling approach in the late 1990s and early
2000s, and we paid the price in terms of declining channel sales. We’re
fixing that. We’re giving more accounts back to the channel. Many of our
accounts said they need more touch points. We couldn’t deliver those the same
way the channel can. Our named account/named partner model clearly delineates
where we will sell directly, and where our channel partners will have the
lead. This has been a long process, but we’re seeing the fruits of it now.
It’s a healthier situation for Novell, and ensures our customers get more of
what they need: attention.
Q: What do you see as Novell’s core products and services in 2005 and again
A: Secure identity management, web application development/integration, and
cross-platform services. These are our focus areas, and our products and
solutions will fit within these areas. I can’t be specific on things like
product names. We certainly will continue our cross-platform approach,
building for all the leading operating environments in the market.
These are complex areas. We’ll have made important strides forward by 2005
and 2007, but we won’t be “finished” by any means. We’re focused as a company
like we never have been in our history. This means continuity, not going for
the flavor of the month.
Q: What in your view are the five dominant challenges facing enterprises in
2005 and again in 2007? What are your solutions to these challenges?
A: To me, the 2005 and 2007 time frame is an artificial distinction for
technology. I think the issues are really in more of a 10-year time frame.
The big challenges are security, integration, and identity. Getting
information from anywhere, from any system, in the company to the people who
are supposed to have it, yet making sure privacy is protected, that’s what
we’re working toward.
Q: In advising CIOs and CEOs, where is the industry heading in the short,
medium and long-term? Can you give specific predictions for businesses about
where technology is going in two years, and in five years in the following
areas: telephony, security, pervasive computing, networking, the desktop, the
web, data storage, Voice over IP, IPv6, and other areas you feel require
A: Some of these are areas where Novell doesn’t really play, and I’m not
going to pretend I’m an expert. But a number do fit within Novell’s area of
focus. And these all come together in a way, so I’d have to say convergence
is where the industry is heading. Computing is extensive already, but getting
information out to any device, anywhere, securely, will make it pervasive. So
security, networking, pervasive computing, the Web, data storage: these are
all elements of the same challenge. Desktops, if anything, will become less
central, as people look to other devices for their information. But they
won’t disappear, and managing desktops and the other devices will be a huge
challenge. And the time frame, is, again, a 10-year one, in my mind. Given
current market uncertainties, I’d be surprised if many people are making
predictions in a two-year time frame.
Q: What does corporate America need to do to restore its image?
A: Integrity, honesty, openness in communication. History shows the truth
will, in fact, prevail, so why not start with it?
Q: Where do you see IT expense in relation to business plans and business
processes? How do you see it factor in a cost-benefit analysis?
A: Even with the dot.com meltdown, there’s no question that IT is much more
central in business and business planning than it was 10 years ago. That will
remain the case. IT improves productivity, and can, if leveraged correctly,
open up new business models. Companies that ignore IT in the business
planning do so at their own peril.
Q: Considering recent news events, the state of global affairs, and our
current economic situation, if you were doing this interview, what five questions
would you ask of someone in your position and what would be your answers?
A: 1. When will the economy turn around? I don’t know!
2. Is technology dead? Absolutely not. I know there have been recent
articles, including in such esteemed publications as the Harvard Business
Review, speculating that technology has reached a plateau, and asking whether
businesses really need to improve their technology, or already have what they
need to succeed. I disagree. Technology always has been, and will remain, an
important competitive differentiator.
3. How does an “old” company like Novell – 20 years old this year – survive
in such a tumultuous industry? Through balancing the competing needs of
constant innovation with continuity of purpose. Novell has always had the
innovation. We’ve occasionally strayed on what our purpose is. Today, we’re
very focused, which is why I’m optimistic about the company.
4. What is the toughest part about being a CEO? Managing through a downturn
like the one we’ve just been through. This is really tough in software,
because it invariably involves difficult decisions about people, since people
are the biggest resource – but also the biggest cost – for a software
company. It’s never easy having to cut back.
5. What’s the best part about being a CEO? Seeing it all come together.
Seeing synergies from acquisitions begin to gain traction. Watching employees
get behind a new direction for the company. Successfully merging competing
corporate cultures. Going back to the puzzle analogy – it’s watching the big
picture emerge as you get more pieces of the puzzle together…. Or course, in
business, you almost never get to the point where you have that last piece in
place, because more pieces always get added. But getting to the point where you
can see the big picture materializing and merging and is great.
Q: With your deep knowledge of the entire IT industry, what other pointers
would you like to give the readers?
A:Don’t lose faith in technology, and don’t lose faith in corporate America.
Both are foundation components of what makes the U.S. economy so strong.
Given the global economic and political tensions over the last couple of
years, it’s easy to get down on what’s going on. But the U.S. economy is
resilient. We continue to innovate in technology. Keep the faith.
Q: Thank you for taking time out of your demanding schedule to spend time
with us sharing your valuable insights. We all watch with interest as you
weave a tapestry of vision, innovation, and leadership, shaping Novell into a
A: My pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity.