January 16, 2004

Novell: Quiet Warriors

Chuck Talk writes "The Novell Corporation is something of an anachronism in the computing industry. Once the leaders of the networked world, they suffered greatly at the hands of the GUI boys who campaigned so fervently to destroy the once mighty LAN champion. In an effort to adapt, Novell was nearly destroyed by the campaign for consolidation that occurred in the mid 1990s. There are very few people that would doubt the historic enmity that exists between Provo and Redmond.

Having been in the networked world back then, I can recall the problematic and vitriolic relationships that existed between Novell and Microsoft, and how every time that Novell would release a patch for the Networking drivers for Windows 95, Microsoft would release a patch that would break the Novell patch. Things were never very friendly between the two camps, and arguably, it was because Microsoft wanted to dominate the Network world.

At the time, Microsoft was working on Windows NT, and it was a new thing. It was a contender, and had the ease of use factor over the complex and archaic Novell NetWare system which required a Certified NetWare Engineer to administer (for all practical purposes). Microsoft was busy touting the simplicity of the Windows NT Network and its lower costs versus Novell. Microsoft was the eye-candy, and Novell was the tried and true. Slick packaging worked back then people bought it.

Novell was not blameless IMHO in their own downfall; they did have some rocky roads that they crossed. Perhaps the greatest mistake was the failure to adopt TCP/IP fast enough to remain a leader. They also had a few releases which stumbled and were hamstrung by Microsoft which had the desktop market and would do anything to kill Novell."

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