Novell Bought By Attachmate? Really? - InformationWeek

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11/22/2010
03:43 PM
Jim Rapoza
Jim Rapoza
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Novell Bought By Attachmate? Really?

Viewed through the prism of tech history, Attachmate acquiring Novell seems strange, but given today's realities, the deal makes sense and could be good for Novell and its customers.

When I first saw the headline "Attachmate To Acquire Novell For $2.2 Billion," my reaction was "Attachmate? Buying Novell? Really?"

That headline jumped right out at me, as I think it would for any tech person who remembers the eighties and early nineties. Back then, Novell was a Titan of the tech community. When it came to enterprise software, Novell was in many ways as powerful and influential as IBM and Microsoft.

Comparatively, while Attachmate was not an insignificant company back then -- especially when it came to terminal emulation -- they were in no way in the same league as Novell. If Novell was a titan back then, Attachmate was a minor Greek god.

For those of you who weren't involved in technology back in those days, think of it this way. Someone predicts right now that in 25 years, Yelp will buy Google or LG will buy Apple. That would be of similar magnitude to Attachmate's Novell acquisition, if you'd forecast it in 1985.

Yet despite my initial confusion, I have to admit that things have changed a lot in twenty-plus years and Novell is no longer the same company. To stick with the Greek gods metaphor, not only is Novell no longer a Titan, they aren't even a minor god anymore. At best, Novell is a demi-god.

And given today's realities, the deal with Attachmate makes a lot of sense.

Despite the fact that Novell is no longer the company it once was, that doesn't mean they don't have some valuable assets, from the ZenWorks virtualization system to the SUSE Linux platform to the security and management offerings. Many of these products will fit well within Attachmate's current product portfolio, such as NetIQ. I also like that Attachmate plans to separate out SUSE as a separate entity from the rest of Novell.

Of course, we'll have to wait and see how this acquisition plays out. Many people, especially in the open source community, are concerned about one aspect of the deal, which includes the sale of some Novell IP properties to Microsoft.

But to me this sale goes as yet another example that, no matter how powerful a company looks today, there is no guarantee that they will remain that way over time.

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