Messman: Novell Will Rebuild Trust One Partner At A Time


At its BrainShare 2005 last week, Novell launched Linux Small Business Suite 9 and unveiled plans for 20 new "market play" bundles for vertical industries Novell salespeople and channel partners can sell.

Novell also unveiled its MarketStart initiative, under which it will distribute through its channel certified third-party open-source Linux applications, creating new revenue opportunities for VARs.

Messman said the company has focused on the enterprise but can now turn its attentions to enabling VARs because of Novell's new SMB Linux offerings: Open Enterprise Server (OES) and Linux Small Business Suite 9. OES shipped earlier this month and Linux Small Business Suite 9 will ship by the end of this month and will be priced at $475 per five new user licenses, or $252 per five users upgrading from qualifying Novell or competitive products.

"We need the channel, and it hasn't been easy for us to get this done because of internal issues we need to resolve," Messman said in an interview with CRN.

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Though acknowledging that some partners have misgivings about Novell because of past channel missteps, Novell's new product lineup and channel policies will make the Linux channel happen, he said. "We're going to rebuild trust one partner at a time."

To that end, Novell announced a Partner Opportunity Kit for Linux Small Business Suite 9 that includes go-to-market materials such as Web banners, direct-mail templates and telemarketing scripts. Novell also will provide sales and technical training Webinars over the next few weeks, as well as sales readiness tools.

While many partners have defected to Windows during NetWare's decline, some are optimistic about Novell's channel prospects. "In the last year, Novell has really turned a corner. Linux gave them a shot in the arm," said Joe Vaught, principal of PCPC, Houston. "I left them in '89 and jumped onto the Microsoft Windows/NT bandwagon. Now we're going back to work with Novell, full speed ahead. We're going to use the Small Business Suite and sell it into IBM accounts and convert Microsoft accounts."

ELIZABETH MONTALBANO contributed to this story.