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Novell's New CTO/EVP Mulls 2006 Linux Strategy

New Job, New Year

  • December 29, 2005
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

During his first month on the job at Novell, Dr. Jeffrey ("Jeff") Jaffe has roved the globe, culling ideas from his new colleagues about company strategy around Linux and open source in 2006 and future years to come.

"It's important to get a hearing of ideas. We can then choose which ideas fit best with where the market is going with open source," according to Jaffe, a former IBM and Lucent exec recently named to the newly created post of CTO/EVP at Novell.

So far, his travels have taken him to Novell facilities in places ranging from Cambridge, MA and Provo, UT to China, India, and Germany, the original home of Novell's SUSE Linux acquisition.

"I've been impressed with the quality of Novell workforce as well as with the fusing of different cultures," Jaffe said, in an interview with LinuxPlanet.

"We have a culture coming out of Provo that's involved with very reliable computing, for instance. Then, there's another team in Cambridge--the former Ximian team--that's very, very innovative in some of the work they're doing around compatibility between the Linux world and the Microsoft world," he elaborated.

Jaffe's new position is the first at Novell to fuse CTO and EVP duties. His immediate predecessor as CTO, Alan Nugent, moved over to Computer Associates last spring.

"I have two sets of responsibilities. One of these is executive VP in charge of products. Novell has a wide variety of products (in areas that include) identity management, workgroup, and resource management, for starters," Jaffe told LinuxPlanet.

"The heart of my responsibility as CTO will be to make sure that all of our investments are aligned across a very clear vision, and to bring (these investments) to a new level of efficiency," he added.

Jaffe acknowledged that, in his CTO hat, he's still in the process of gauging the specific course that Novell will follow during the second half of this decade.

But the signs are completely indisputable that Novell's strategic vision will continue to center on Linux and open source.

Prior to landing at Novell, Jaffe served at Lucent as president of Bell Labs Research and Advanced Technologies. Before that, he spent about 20 years working in a variety of technical and business-oriented jobs at IBM, including VP of technology and general manager of IBM's SecureWay business unit.

At SecureWay, Jaffe oversaw a product line-up encompassing categories such as identity management and secure access.

"I've seen the power that the open source community can have in disrupting (existing) business models, reducing costs, increasing vendor choice, and tapping the innovation of a wide variety of people around the world," he said.

From Jaffe's perspective, Novell is "the company that will make open source a reality."

"Novell has already made significant investments in bringing in top flight open source assets. Just look at what they've done with SUSE," the CTO/EVP maintained.

The new Novell exec also perceives massive market opportunities for Linux, especially at this particular point in time.

Over the years, he observed, the "fundamental computing paradigm" has shifted from MVS, to Unix, and then to Microsoft Windows.

"Linux is the next big opportunity. Open Enterprise Server has been one of the great recent success stories for Novell. Sales [figures] have been an endorsement from the marketplace for our strategy," Jaffe said.

"But it's important to trace the history of Linux, and to map it against enterprise computing needs," he added.

Right now, he contended, businesses are approaching a "tipping point," at which they'll recognize the increasing quality and reliability of Linux product by starting to spend the "critical mass" of their IT investments on Linux.

Jaffe said he also stands in favor of migrating customers from Novell NetWare to Linux and open source.

"Customers really love NetWare services--but they'll also enjoy having them deployed on open source," the new Novell exec told LinuxPlanet.

Novell will also help to meet customer needs by introducing new efficiencies to software development, according to Jaffe.

"Software needs to be written in such a way that you're making sure that customers have all they need," he stated. "And with new (models) such as virtualization coming along, our vision will also act as a steering point for our ecosystem of partners, helping to leverage their capabilities in this direction."

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