The VAR Guy is set to see Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian (pictured) and Chief Marketing Officer/Channel Chief John Dragoon at the Novell BrainShare conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Here are five key channel partner questions for Hovsepian and Dragoon.

1. Other Deals Coming?: Novell's board rejected Elliott Associates' unsolicited $2 billion bid for the company on March 20. Novell's board said it would seek to increase shareholder value in other ways -- potentially through share buybacks, strategic relationships or perhaps even the sale of the company. So, um: Does Novell expect Elliott Associates to raise its bid for the company? Or might somebody else step forward in a potential deal?

2. Intelligent Workload Management - The Real Deal?: Novell in late 2009 announced an intelligent workload management (IWM) strategy. The effort, according to Novell, “unifies identity and systems management, transforming the way enterprises securely manage and optimize computing resources across physical, virtual and cloud environments.”

Sounds promising. But has IWM gained any momentum so far? And do all of Novell's products really fit into the strategy? Plus, can partners expect some IWM specializations to emerge?

3. SUSE Linux Appliances: Nearly a dozen ISVs -- from Ingres to Groundwork Open Source -- are touting Novell's SUSE Linux Appliance and SUSE Studio strategy at BrainShare. That's a promising start. But are channel partners really deploying the appliances from customers, and profiting from them?

On a somewhat related note, Novell in recent years has used third-party research to suggest SUSE Linux is maintaining or taking market share from Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Novell's claims adjust from quarter to quarter. But The VAR Guy would like to know: Does Novell still think it's taking Linux market share from key rivals?

4. Security Boom or Bust?: Plenty of small security software companies enjoy rapid growth. Names like Kaspersky Lab and Sophos come to mind. Then, there are established security brands like McAfree, RSA, Symantec and Trend Micro.

Novell's hit and miss financial results in the security market beg the question: What is Novell doing to strengthen its identity and security management brands -- especially among channel partners?

5. Where's Dell?: It's good to see a lengthy list of software partners backing SUSE Linux at BrainShare. And hardware giants like Hewlett-Packard and IBM also are in the house. But The VAR Guy noticed Dell is not on the BrainShare exhibitor list, as of March 21. That's peculiar, considering Dell has been a longtime backer of SUSE Linux.

In fairness to Novell, The VAR Guy noticed that Dell isn't on the Red Hat Summit sponsor list either.

That's all for now. The VAR Guy will be back with live BrainShare coverage throughout the week.

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