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Attachmate, Novell, and the future for Novell IAM Customers

by Earl Perkins  |  May 19, 2011  |  Comments Off on Attachmate, Novell, and the future for Novell IAM Customers

It is embarrassing to have waited so long to write something in our blog when so much is happening in our industry. I really have no good excuse, so let’s get to the reason for this one. Or rather I should say “reasons”, since I’d like to talk about a few different topics. Consider it catching up, if you will.

First, let’s talk about Novell. By now many of you have heard that the acquisition of Novell is now complete, and that there are already some changes occurring as a result. I know that in earlier blogs and in advice to our clients that are also Novell customers I counseled against taking action too hastily, but instead let this process be completed so we can assess the impacts on your own planning. It’s evident that there are some impacts now to consider.

The Novell Identity and Security Management (ISM) division will report to Jay Gardner’s NetIQ group, both in reporting and in brand. Jay will report to Jeff Hawn along with Bob Flynn, a veteran Attachmate official who has been appointed as Novell business unit President and General Manager. This truly signals the end of one era, and part of me is sad to see that happen (no insult intended to Jay or Bob). There are no doubt pros and cons that can be debated about whether Attachmate is making the right organization and branding decision, but the bottom line is that it will ultimately affect aspects of Novell product development and support organization, from where the employees will reside, who stays with Novell, where headquarters will now be located (i.e. Houston, Texas), and what will ultimately be the roadmap for Novell products. Sure, I can read what is being produced as announcements, and there have been briefings to large Novell clients about the future, but shifting from one corporate culture to the next leaves fingerprints, so let’s be realistic.

There are definite synergies (I’ve always hated that word, but it’s appropriate here) in the Novell IAM products and the NetIQ products, and some overlap, and combined development, planning, and sales is logical. Whenever such consolidations happen, you watch carefully to see how much Novell talent decides to stay vs. how much decides to leave. You also watch who is put in charge and what their history is. It helps customers to gauge impact on long-term plans using Novell products.

I believe that there will be impacts on the both the future products and existing product support as a result of the restructuring: some good, some not so good. While few disagree that Novell has very solid and capable IAM solutions, those same people will argue that immediately prior to the acquisition announcement Novell was attempting to map an IAM future for itself to create a credible competitive opportunity, and was struggling to do so. Its efforts to combine their SIEM and IAM strategies had mixed results, though made strategic sense. Their plan for identity and access governance (IAG) with the Aveksa agreement was yielding results, but was not characteristic of the Novell approach in incorporating functionality such as that into a common, homogeneous architecture (such an architecture is past its time now, since the story of the IAM market has been one of acquisition and a kaleidoscope of archtiectures). These efforts, though much better than the old days of UnixWare and WordPerfect, still did not realize the results that Novell had hoped.

It is logical to assume that by looking at the track record of NetIQ and the work done by Mr. Gardner and Mr. Flynn will provide an indirect indication of life with a combined NetIQ and Novell. The technology Attachmate has acquired with the Novell acquisition is sound and will continue to provide value to both existing and new clients. However, don’t underestimate the eventual impact of a change this dramatic on the culture of a company that once went head-to-head with Microsoft and won for a while. To the clients and the audience I spoke to throughout 2010 and early this year, we now know more about the changes at Novell to help make a better decision in our dealings with them going forward.

Category: iam  strategic-planning  

Tags: security-summit-na  

Earl Perkins
Research VP
5 years at Gartner
32 years IT industry

Earl Perkins is a research vice president in the Security and Privacy team at Gartner. His focus areas include identity and access management (IAM), including user provisioning, role life cycle management… Read Full Bio

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