Roger Levy NovellNovell is generating buzz this week with the December 18 launch of OpenSUSE 11.1. But The VAR Guy is looking at Novell from a slightly different perspective. The far bigger news involves senior VP Roger Levy (pictured) -- who may bring order to Novell's product lines. Here's the scoop, from The VAR Guy.

First, the basic facts. Earlier this week Novell announced that:
"Effective immediately, Roger Levy, previously general manager and senior vice president of Novell's Open Platform Solutions (OPS) group, will move to the new role of senior vice president, strategic development, responsible for cross business unit strategy and offerings for the data center, end-user computing, and identity and security management markets."
The VAR Guy is still waiting for an official Novell comment about Levy's focus and role at the company. (Update 12/17/08, 12:12 p.m. eastern: Novell's reply is in the comments section below.)

Regardless, Levy's new position comes at a critical time for Novell and its channel partners. Novell's SUSE Linux has gained momentum over the past two years or so. But a bigger problem still looms at the company: Novell -- and its business partners -- often fail to connect the dots between the company's various products: Linux, identity management, security, etc. In fact, The VAR Guy often views those businesses as completely separate silos. That's not good for business.

Educated Guess

Enter Levy. It's only a hunch, but The VAR Guy thinks Levy will build marketing bridges between Novell's various offerings. If everything goes as planned, SUSE Linux partners will more aggressively market identity and security management, and vice-versa. Moreover, Levy will help Novell to accelerate demand for some of the company's more recent products -- including the PlateSpin data center management tool.

Just yesterday, Avnet Technology Solutions President John Paget told Wall Street analysts that Novell PlateSpin is a key revenue opportunity for solutions providers. It's the first time in recent memory that The VAR Guy has heard a major distributor mention Novell as key partner. (Novell and Avnet announced their partnership Dec. 10.)

Still, Novell and Levy must continue to build bridges across the Novell product lines. Sure, Novell generates roughly $1 billion in annual revenues. But right now, most folks think of Novell as a $130 million open source company with roughly $870 million in legacy revenue baggage. Novell needs to show the media, customers and partners that the company's growth strategy is more than a SUSE Linux story.

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