Update: SUSE Channel Veteran Heinrich Leaves Novell

Petra Heinrich

"This is a very big loss. [Heinrich] was a big channel activist and very channel-driven," said one longtime SUSE solution provider in the United States. "The question is, where is Novell going as it relates to SUSE Linux and its partners? Novell says it is very partner-driven, but how do you lose one of your top channel advocates if you're partner-driven?"

Heinrich couldn't be reached for comment, but industry sources said she's in talks with Open-Xchange, formerly Netline, the maker of an open-source-oriented e-mail package that was closely aligned with SUSE and now has added support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

"Heinrich was huge at SUSE. Her history was that she built the European channel for Lotus Notes for IBM and was a critical part of that Lotus-IBM integration in Europe. And for SUSE, she built the whole program," said a source close to SUSE.

Since acquiring SUSE and its Linux franchise two years ago for about $210 million in cash, Novell has refocused the company around Linux. However, the Waltham, Mass.-based software vendor has lost key SUSE personnel in moves that many channel players have characterized as serious missteps.

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In May, for instance, Novell lost Richard Seibt, who was CEO of the independent SUSE and after the acquisition became president of Novell EMEA, Novell's subsidiary for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Open-Xchange, Tarrytown, N.Y., said this week it has hired Oliver Nachtrab, a former director of product management for Novell/SUSE Linux. He is vice president of business development and marketing.

"It seems [Novell is] ripping SUSE apart," said one source close to Novell. "When they announced that they bought SUSE, they said they wanted the spirit of SUSE. Now it looks like that was the last thing they wanted. They just wanted product," he added.

A Novell spokesman said that while the company appreciates Heinrich's efforts, it has a deep bench of channel-savvy talent in-house. Johan Rosius, who heads up Novell's sales alliance organization for EMEA, will take on Henrich's responsibilities, he said.

This story was updated Wednesday afternoon with Novell reaction and succession plans.