Why Novell is like Napster-era Metallica

Why Novell is like Napster-era Metallica

Remember back when Metallica isolated the majority of their fan base with their over-the-top stance against Napster (for the moment let's leave the stupidity of the music business and the fact that it only has itself to blame for people pirating songs out of this) and what it did to the band and the fans that supported them for all those years? That's how I am starting to think of Novell.

Metallica went from being loved by millions to being whiny about Napster, taking the focus of the band off the music and onto the ugly business of the music industry. Ultimately, instead of proving a point, the argument took on a sheen of greed. This made people not like the band.

Drawing a parallel to Novell, the company went from being a player in the Linux market, to an open source pariah as the focus changed from the software to their pact with Microsoft. Add to that the fact that Novell handled the situation rather poorly (with more obnoxious details filtering out all the time) and you find a company that lost its way. The big question if Novell can turn the ship all the way.

When we look at the market dynamics facing Novell it's fairly obvious why Novell did the deal with Microsoft:
  • Red Hat has a dominant position for Linux servers with Ubuntu taking the desktop
  • NetWare is pretty much dead
  • Chronic management changes drained the corporate brain trust
  • Microsoft needed to make a deal with a Linux vendor and Novell was desperate while Red Hat is not.

Onto the crux of the problem: Metallica's music has stood the test of time, while Novell's software has not. Metallica's last album when James was finally off the booze was better than the last release of Netware. Even with the new virtualization functions of Netware (Brad makes some good points) it just doesn't matter. Novell has already missed pretty much every chance it had for a true resurgence.

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