March 24, 1997 5:00 PM ET
Novell reveals new deals to strengthen its Internet strategy and overall message
By Renee Deger

  Salt Lake City--Novell Inc. kicked off its BrainShare conference Monday morning by revealing details of strategic relationships with Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. that could add flavor to the company's bland claim that it has an Internet strategy.

Its Rock the Net opening theme for the annual gathering of NetWare developers and resellers hearkened back to days of the glitzy 1980s, using fireworks, thumping rock music and a dance troupe reminiscent of the era's "Solid Gold" dance show.

In fact, executives outlined a strategy based on familiar themes: IntranetWare, Groupwise and a newly emerging concept that has yet to become a product called network services.

"This is not a new strategy for Novell; it's just a strategy we believe in," said Novell President Joseph Marengi, admitting the company has done a lousy job at marketing. Despite that, Marengi said Novell churned out a record million NetWare servers and can trumpet an installed base of 60 million seats that needs more Internet and intranet products.

But the new strategic partnerships represent a palatable ingredient in Novell's claim that it has cooked up an Internet strategy after all.

The partnership with Oracle, based in Redwood Shores, Calif., will result in the two companies integrating key programs into each other's products. Novell has established a products division within Oracle and will integrate a Java server into its IntranetWare server, said Denice Gibson, senior vice president of Internet products at Novell.

Oracle meanwhile will support the Novell Directory Services on all platforms, and the companies together will produce developer's tools. Gary Bloom, an Oracle vice president, said the joint venture will produce a nonproprietary server integrated with IntranetWare and Oracle's Network Computing Architecture by the end of the year.

Novell and Sun demonstrated Project Studio, a multimedia programming tool the two will release next week at the Java One conference in San Francisco. Larry Weber, vice president and general manager of Sun Workshop products, demonstrated the program's ability to allow users to customize applications while they are running, by simply clicking on Java Beans. Project Studio also will be featured in the next release of Novell's Intranetware.

Also making an appearance was incoming CEO Eric Schmidt, who on April 7 moves to Novell, based in Provo, Utah, from his current spot as chief technical officer at Sun. Schmidt said that his expertise in farming new and Internet-related technologies out of Sun will be an asset for Novell.

Novell, he said, has sufficient cash on hand and technology in the labs to strengthen its position as a contender in the server market.

"The problem is, nobody knows this, and it's my job to fix that problem," said Schmidt.

Schmidt said he will tap Marengi and current Chairman of the Board, John Young, who will become vice chair later this month. The three top executives will discuss their new roles when Schmidt starts work, Schmidt said.

He also gave Marengi, once a sales vice president of Novell who was called upon last year to become acting CEO, a public vote of confidence.

"Joe [Marengi] knows what he's doing, and he will help me," Schmidt said.

Schmidt credited Marengi with creating a clear and easy-to-articulate message, and his job will be to champion that and harvest "underappreciated" technologies from the labs.

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