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3/27/2006
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SuSE Linux CTO To Exit Novell

Juergen Geck, former CTO of SuSE Linux, is leaving Novell at the end of this week.

Another key SUSE executive is leaving Novell.

Juergen Geck, former CTO of SUSE Linux, is slated to finish his duties at Novell at the end of this week. Novell declined to comment.

Geck, vice president and SUSE Linux CTO at the company, said in an e-mail that his contract with Novell officially ends June 30. He described the parting as amicable.

After a 10-year stint with SUSE, Geck said he's not yet sure where he will land but is looking to help a smaller firm. "I must say that I don't see it as such bad news. After nearly 10 years at SUSE and now Novell, I think it was time for a change. Novell has been very good to me, and there would have been plenty of good opportunities within the company," he said in the e-mail. "At the same time, there is a good amount of work waiting with smaller, emerging companies. Going through growing pains like we did in the years to follow is something where I feel I can help others to do better."

Geck’s departure follows Novell's appointment of Jeffrey Jaffe as executive vice president and CTO last fall amid a corporate restructuring. Jaffe, who served at IBM and Lucent Technologies for more than 25 years, is in charge of Novell's technology direction and product business units.

"There's nothing for [Geck] to do. He's a thinker, a strategist, and differs with Novell," said one source close to SUSE, who asked not to be named.

Geck, who joined SUSE in 1996, has served as vice president of technology partners, where he built alliances with Advanced Micro Devices, Fujitsu-Siemens Computers, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Oracle and SAP. During his tenure at SUSE, he also handled SUSE's Technology Partner Program.

On the product side, Geck was instrumental in designing SUSE’s flagship commercial product, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and in developing Novell's YaST project, an open-source system management initiative based on SUSE's acclaimed system-management tools.

Geck’s exit is the latest in a string of executive-level departures at SUSE since Novell acquired the Linux software company in 2004.

Last November, SUSE founder Hubert Mantel resigned from Novell following a corporate restructuring that claimed 600 jobs, a number of them at SUSE headquarters in Nuremberg, Germany. Earlier, in May, Novell lost former SUSE CEO Richard Seibt, who served as president of Novell’s subsidiary for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) after the acquisition. And in July, SUSE channel chief Petra Heinrich announced her resignation. Heinrich, who headed Novell's European, Middle East and Asia channel operations, joined Open-Xchange as its top sales executive.

Open-Xchange is now aligned with Red Hat. Competing against Novell's GroupWise and Hula open-source project, Open-Xchange picked up several SUSE employees who left after Novell assumed control of SUSE.

One U.S. IBM business partner said Geck was a big-picture kind of guy. "We have had the pleasure of working with [Geck] on several occasions. We found Juergen to be a visionary," said Frank Basanta, director of technology at Systems Solutions, New York. "His objective was not to see where Linux would be headed in six months to a year, but what impact it would have on businesses five to 10 years down the road."

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