How does Attachmate plan to manage Novell's products and channel partner strategy? An SEC Filing dated January 3, 2011 provides some new clues. The bottom line: While Attachmate seems committed to Novell's products and partner program, some individual brand names could change or fade away. Plus, Attachmate and Novell still need to work out when and where the Novell BrainShare conferences will be held this year. Here's the update.

As you'll recall, Attachmate announced plans to acquire Novell in November 2010. The deal is expected to close sometime in Q1 2011. How will the companies move forward with one another -- and customers and partners? A recent SEC filing describes a lengthy, scripted Q&A document that Attachmate and Novell have shared with employees. On the channel front, the Q&A states:
"We believe the scale of a combined Novell-Attachmate company could enable partners to offer a broader range of products and solutions to their customers. Attachmate has told us that they deploy a similar channel model as Novell, but indicated that their channel model lacks some of the systems that Novell has in place, like PartnerNet and deal registration. In addition, partners of the new company could be positioned to realize the same potential benefits that accrue to customers."
That' all sounds pretty straightforward. But things get a bit more interesting when the Q&A begins to describe how Attachmate will manage Novell's products going forward. Things start off pretty darn good, with Attachmate Chairman Jeff Hawn stating: "Attachmate will support the existing roadmaps and release schedules for products across the Novell and SUSE portfolios."

Now, the Questions

But dig a little deeper and you'll begin to spot the question marks. They include the following Q&A points:
  • Q: What will happen to the ZENworks, PlateSpin, Sentinel, and GroupWise brand names?
  • A: The future of these brand names is an issue that we currently expect to be resolved during the integration planning period.
  • Q: Will Novell continue products that are currently in beta, specifically Novell Vibe?
  • A: During the integration planning period, Novell and Attachmate will jointly review these products and discuss their future as part of the merged company.
  • Q: The following products are currently expected to ship Q1 2011: SUSE Manager, IDM4 standard edition, Privileged User Manager 2.3, Novell Vibe OnPrem 3. Does Novell still plan to ship these products in Q1?
  • A: Novell plans to ship all four products in Q1 as planned.
  • Q: Do you plan to continue BrainShare? Do you plan to hold it in both Salt Lake City and EMEA? If yes, when will these events take place?
  • A: The future of BrainShare is a topic that will be discussed early in the integration planning period. We hope to communicate the plans, locations and dates for BrainShare in both US and EMEA in January 2011.
The complete Q&A is far longer. It contains plenty of assurances that Novell's relationships with VMware, Microsoft and other partners remain intact. Still, Novell and Attachmate will need to move quickly to keep customers and partners loyal.

For instance, the 2011 IT conference schedule is packed with channel summits and partner gatherings. Novell needs to clearly communicate the potential BrainShare dates and locations so that customers, partners, sponsors and media (ahem...) can plan accordingly.

SUSE Watch

Also, some conspiracy theorists continue to believe Attachmate will sell or spin off Novell's SUSE Linux business. During early negotiations, Attachmate seemed most interested in Novell's IT management and security solutions, and didn't initially bid on the SUSE business, according to a December 2010 SEC filing.

Also, trusted sources have told The VAR Guy that both Red Hat and VMware bid to buy Novell's SUSE business in late 2010. Novell's board of directors even considered retaining SUSE as a standalone company, according to that December 2010 SEC filing.

Still, that's all water under the bridge. Attachmate is buying all of Novell. And Attachmate's investors don't typically "flip" (rapidly buy and sell) business units, sources have told The VAR Guy. All that said, The VAR Guy will be watching to see how Attachmate and Novell sort out the deal throughout Q1 2011.

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