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Novell exec heads for the exit

The networking-software maker announces the departure of COO Stewart Nelson, the company's No. 2 executive for the past two years.

Networking-software maker Novell announced Tuesday the departure of Stewart Nelson, its chief operating officer.

Nelson, 41, has served as Novell's No. 2 executive for the past two years, having been promoted to run the company's day-to-day operations during the era of former Chief Executive Eric Schmidt.

Novell has attempted to transform its executive ranks in the aftermath of its $266 million acquisition of technology consultants Cambridge Technology Partners, completed in March of last year. Current Chief Executive Jack Messman was formerly chief of Cambridge. Once he replaced Schmidt at Novell at the close of the deal, Messman installed an executive staff made up largely of Cambridge colleagues.

Schmidt has since joined Web portal Google as its chief executive.

Nelson was a remnant of Novell's old guard, having spent eight years in a variety of roles at the company. Sources close to the company said he was reluctant to leave Novell at the time of the Cambridge deal because of a lucrative compensation package tied to his amount of time at the company.

Novell has struggled to morph its business as its once-dominant Netware network operating system has suffered at the hands of Microsoft's Windows 2000 server OS and the Linux OS. The company is looking to evolve its business to handle a variety of software infrastructure tasks and associated consulting services.

No plans were announced to replace Nelson. Novell said Nelson would complete his duties at the company "in the next several weeks."

"Stewart has held many positions at Novell during his tenure. He has always been a valued executive, and his accomplishments at Novell are numerous. He has helped me tremendously over the past six months, and he will be missed," Messman said in a statement.