When Attachmate disclosed plans to buy Novell in November, The VAR Guy had plenty of questions: Did any other companies bid on Novell? Will Novell Channel Chief John Dragoon (pictured) join Attachmate? What will become of Novell's relationship with VMware? And will new products such as Novell Cloud Security Service and Novell Vibe continue forward under Attachmate ownership? The VAR Guy found some -- but not all -- of the answers he was seeking during a call with Dragoon on Nov. 30. Here's the update.
During the half-hour call, Dragoon was careful not to hype the Attachmate-Novell business combination. Time and again, Dragoon said he realized Attachmate and Novell need to prove their business combination will be lucrative for channel partners. Also, Dragoon couldn't answer certain questions because of regulatory restrictions. The discussion was mostly Q&A, with Dragoon weighing in on the following topics:
1. Who else, if anyone, bid on Novell? And what about the rumor that VMware wanted to buy Novell's SUSE Linux business?
Dragoon's reply: He declined to get into specifics but he offered this juicy nugget of information: Sometime in December, Novell will file a proxy statement with the SEC that discloses details about the the Novell sale process. The Proxy will also offer key information about due diligence. Also, Dragoon said Novell relations with VMware remain strong, though he declined to say if VMware was among the bidders for Novell.
The VAR Guy's spin: Sounds like the proxy statement could include a potential list of bidders that didn't wind up acquiring Novell. The VAR Guy has bookmarked the SEC web site and is standing by for timely reading...
2. Will Dragoon remain Novell's Channel Chief after Attachmate completes the Novell acquisition?
Dragoon's reply: His potential role (or non-role) is still to be determined. That discussion is part of the integration planning phase, which starts now. One of the items to be discussed is the structure of the management team moving forward, Dragoon said.
The VAR Guy's spin: Too soon to say. When it comes to personal matters like career status, our resident blogger tries not to speculate.
3. What are the potential Attachmate-Novell Synergies?
Dragoon's reply: It's about scale. Attachmate (and its NetIQ Business) are about 900 people and $300 million in annual revenues, Dragoon estimated. Novell, in stark contrast, is close to $1 billion in size, The VAR Guy notes. "Both of us are in the infrastructure business," said Dragoon. "NetIQ in particular... they’re really focused on security, compliance, access." He sees synergies with Novell's identity management offerings. And in the high-end enterprise space, Dragoon sees potential synergies between Attachmate's terminal emulation business and the SUSE Linux business running on IBM mainframes.
The VAR Guy's Spin: Terminal emulation ain't so sexy, so the security synergies better be huge.
4. Is Dragoon meeting with partners and if so what has been their reaction?
Dragoon's reply: Talk about a candid guy: Dragoon said he needs to concede that many partners are taking a "wait and see" attitude to the deal, though "most partners are balanced and optimistic about it. They just want proof and want to see what Attachmate's intentions are."
Shortly after the phone call with The VAR Guy, Dragoon took a red-eye flight to Spain to attend a European partner advisory board meeting. During such engagements, Dragoon is quick to point out that Novell and Attachmate are honoring all contractual commitments to partners, and the Novell partner program remains in place.
The VAR Guy's Spin: Wait and see seems to be the way to go here. In particular keep a close on the Novell BrainShare 2011 event, which is scheduled for March 20-24 in Salt Lake City. More partner perspectives will surely pop up there.
5. What did Microsoft acquire as part of Novell's sale to Attachmate?
Dragoon's reply: He's quick to accurately note that a consortium led by Microsoft -- and not Microsoft itself -- acquired certain intellectual property assets -- including 882 patents -- from Novell. Alas, Dragoon said he can't divulge the members of the consortium nor can he discuss what Microsoft acquired. However, Dragoon reiterated the fact that Novell retains the Unix copyrights.
6. What has been ISV and OEM reaction?
Dragoon's reply: "We called each and every one of them. The IBMs, the Dells, the VMwares, the SAPs. All of them have remained steadfast in their commitment to Novell." Still, Dragoon conceded that the technology partners are taking a wait-and-see view on how Attachmate executes the deal.
7. What will become of Novell's Intelligent Workload Management effort? Any potential synergies with Attachmate there?
Dragoon's reply: "I do see synergies. The question will be… will IWM remain the strategic glue of the Novell and SUSE businesses or can you expand the platform for NetIQ. On a personal level, I see the potential."
The VAR Guy's Spin: Since Attachmate will run Novell as a separate company, The VAR Guy suspects IWM will remain Novell-centric.
8. Will new products like Novell Cloud Security Services and Novell Vibe (formerly Novell Pulse) continue on? Are there assurances?
Dragoon's Reply: "I wouldn’t say there are assurances. What they acquired are people and assets, with full knowledge of our portfolio and what our road maps are. Why pay and sunset those assets that potentially deliver value? [Attachmate CEO] Jeff [Hawn] has been on record saying first do no harm. He knows Vibe and Cloud Security Service have gotten a lot of buzz and beta participation." But their future status, Dragoon concedes, will be an Attachmate decision.
The VAR Guy's Spin: Novell Cloud Security Service seems like too big an opportunity for Attachmate to abandon. In stark contrast, Novell Vibe is a corporate social media effort that was recently rebranded and still needs to prove itself in the market...
9. What's your advice to channel partners?
Dragoon's reply: "Take a deep breath. Get the facts behind what this allows for rather than the rumors. Culturally, [Attachmate is] embracing the innovations. They’re looking to adopt our best practices. PartnerNet commitments continue. View it as an expansion of opportunity."
The VAR Guy's Spin: Attachmate doesn't have the strongest brand in the IT channel. But Novell certainly has made progress with its partner program over the past year. So our resident blogger, like the partner community, is taking a wait-and-see look at this deal.
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