Nelson loosens Novell's iChain

Nelson loosens Novell's iChain

IDG: You've been credited with getting a long stream of new products out the door.

What did you do?

Nelson: Well, it's called focus. I think when Eric (Schmidt) came on board, we were doing too many things.

And the first thing we did was look at what made sense for Novell, what were our core competencies, what things were we going to be successful at. We than marshaled our entire company, and our entire research and development organisation towards those goals.

There was nothing scientific about it. It was blocking and tackling, it was focus and execute. There was a whole bunch of stuff in 1997 that we were trying to do, like 100 products, and we focused that down to six or seven.

And what my (new) job really is, is to do that company-wide. It's about aligning ourselves, our marketing and partnering and R&D efforts all going in one direction, and executing on the vision and strategy you saw outlined today.

We're focusing on being a Net services software company, on becoming part of the fabric of the Net.

Schmidt today referred to Active Directory as"the directory that isn't shipping". That won'tbe true for very long?

Thank goodness. We want Active Directory to ship. Active Directory not shipping is hurting us. The first thing that I'm going to do is to put together a roadshow and go out to all the major accounts and start doing demonstrations with NDS and (Active Directory) side by side.

Are you disappointed by the extent to which Novell has been able to leverage these years when it had the directory space almost to itself?

We have 50 million users of our directory. So you kind of have to put that in perspective. That's not a huge failure, if you know what I mean. Most companies would die for that kind of a user base for any product.

So do I wish it were more? Yeah. Am I going to make it more? We're going to double, triple and quadruple it pretty quickly as we start moving into the Net. But I'm not disappointed with where we are. I'm disappointed that we haven't been able to articulate the directory strategy better.

How do you see the coexistence of NDS and NetWare with Active Directory and Windows 2000?

Well, first of all, we understood long ago that we would be coexisting with Active Directory, and we announced a product six months ago called DirXML, which allows NDS to exist with databases and directories from other vendors in a very cohesive and seamless way.

It is part of our strategy to make sure that NDS seamlessly integrates with (Active Directory). Period. We want to make sure that when they're used on the Net together, they work together as if they're one.

What will happen to NetWare in the future?

Will it become less strategic to you?

No. We just released NetWare 5.1. Believe me, as the guy who runs R&D, I just put blood, sweat and tears into 5.1 for the last 12 to 18 months. NetWare 5.1 is a huge strategic advantage to Novell. So I see that growing faster, if anything.

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