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Novell Seeks Partners Across Linux/Windows Integration, Security, And More

Playing the Partner Game

  • March 22, 2007
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

Novell is now on the lookout for more partners to work on-site at customer locations to help out with product maintenance and optimization. Opportunities with Novell are also especially strong for VARs with interest and abilities in Linux/Windows integration, security and identity management, and customization of thin client environments, various officials said at BrainShare.

"Novell is providing services in support of its software sales," said Colleen O'Keefe, senior VP of Novell Services. With a lengthy background in working with the channel, the company will now dig down into its VAR relationships in moves to support its products.

"We'll be working through our [internal] consulting arm, too. And we'll also grow our partner infrastructure, so that the customer is assured of a deeper pool of experience," she told LinuxPlanet.

O'Keefe listed current product support priorities that include ID and security management, along with Novell's new Open Enterprise Server (OES) product, Zenworks resource management, and workgroup collaboration.

Novell's on-site consulting partners "make sure that products are running correctly, and that customers are optimizing the true value of the product," she contended.

Novell is particularly keen on attracting new "service integrator" partners with skills in the area of identity and security management, to help customers implement and maintain Novell products such as Sentinel and Novell Identity Manager.

In light of the recent Novell/Microsoft agreement, VARs with skills in SUSE Linux/Windows integration will also be valued, she said.

Justin Steinman, marketing manager for Linux and open source solutions, concurred that crossplatform integration is an especially hot area for Novell VARs right now.

O;Keefe told LinuxPlanet that most mixed implementations spawned by the deal have been handled by inhouse consulting and engineering staff at Novell and Microsoft.

"First we look at the [initial] support structure required � how many dedicated engineers are needed [for Novell and Microsoft products]. Then we figure out what needs to be jointly worked on in terms of next steps such as virtualization, and how we'll support that," she said.

But at least one of these deployments � at HSPC � was spurred by a systems integrator, who called in Novell and Microsoft for help.

According to Jeff Jaffe, Novell's executive VP and CTO, Novell's new SuSE Linux thin client will also provide revenue opportunities for VARs. "At the end of the day, this is a channel play," Jaffe said.

Novell is now working on a customization toolkit that can be used by both customers and VARs to tailor the thin client to specialized environments such as call centers, for instance, said Michael Applebaum, senior product marketing manager.

Beyond product consulting, Novell's Services arm handles offerings that include customer training and phone support, O'Keefe noted.

Novell Services is still fleshing out a strategy for recruiting VARs in the desired areas, according to O'Keefe, who joined Novell only in December of last year.

After Novell purchased Cambridge Technology Partners several years ago, the company faced initial disgruntlement from some of its long-time VAR partners around Novell's establishment of an inhouse consulting arm. Novell has continued, though, to run an extensive VAR program since then.

"We have some great partner relationships," according to O'Keefe. In her view, the biggest challenge in establishing good relationships with integrators centers on "finding the right balance between cooperation and competition."

At this point, Novell does not work with outside partners on phone support. Beyond its main phone bank in Provo, Utah, Novell has set up another call center located in India, to help reduce costs. "But [the center in India] is totally under our management," she said.

"We haven't yet fully explored how we might leverage partner relationships for phone support. But I wouldn't rule that out," according to O'Keefe.

Novell Services also dovetails its activities with those of Novell's Global Strategic Alliances unit, which deals mainly with relationships with big ISV and OEM partners such as Microsoft, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard.

In another interview, Susan Heystee, VP of Global Strategic Alliances, indicated that Novell's relationships with these large players depends on which type of product--and which arm of the partner organization--are involved.

"The hardware guys love virtualization," Heystee told LinuxPlanet. But, she added, Novell's activities in virtualization are also providing opportunities for ISVs of all sizes to build new management tools.

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