Novell announced quarterly results on December 3. So how are the company's individual solutions groups performing -- particularly the SUSE Linux solutions group? And what's the latest with Novell's partner program? The VAR Guy got some perspectives from Novell Chief Marketing Officer John Dragoon. Here's a recap.

First, the hard news: For Q4 ended Oct. 31, Novell's revenue was $216 million -- down significantly from $245 million in Q4 the previous year. As has been the case in recent years, Novell's SUSE Linux sales continue to grow while sales in other product areas continue to contract.

Among the big questions...
  1. Are SUSE sales keeping pace with market growth? Dragoon says yes. "We think we took share from Red Hat [in 2009]," says Dragoon, who also serves as Novell's channel chief. In Novell's Q4, Novell's Linux Platform Products sales were $39 million, up a respectable 14% compared to the same period last year. How does that compare with Red Hat's most recent quarter? The VAR Guy will provide some answers when Red Hat announces financials on Dec. 22.
  2. How are Novell's other platform groups performing? The short answer: Quarterly sales are shrinking. Identity, Access and Compliance Management revenue dropped 14%; Systems and Resource Management dropped 10%; Workgroup product revenue dropped 15%.
  3. Did Novell achieve its financial goals in 2009? Dragoon didn't pull any punches. It's fair to say Novell didn't hit its original goals for the year, he says, but Dragoon points to two potentially promising items: Operating margins rose to 16% from 10% the previous year because of tight cost controls, and every market in which Novell competes is forecast to grow in 2010.

Looking Ahead

Sounds promising. But can Novell connect the dots between all of of its product groups for its channel partners? The VAR Guy has been skeptical but stay tuned. Our resident blogger believes Novell will have some thoughts to share on that in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, Dragoon says Novell has seen a 100 percent increase in the number of partners the company trained in 2009 vs. 2008. Plus, Novell has seen a 300 percent increase in the use of its on-demand training and education resources for partners. Also of note: The VAR Guy believes Novell's software appliance strategy is gaining some traction. Stay tuned for more details shortly.

Still, the overall forecast for Novell remains hazy.
  • SUSE Linux sales are growing -- but are they growing fast enough?
  • And the rest of Novell's business contracted in 2009. Can those businesses grow in 2010?
The VAR Guy will gather and share some more perspectives once Red Hat discloses financial results on Dec. 22.

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