Editor's Note: Welcome to SmartAdvice, a weekly column by The Advisory Council (TAC), an advisory service firm. The feature answers two questions of core interest to you, ranging from leadership advice to enterprise strategies to how to deal with vendors. Submit questions directly to [email protected]
Question A: Will Novell NetWare be a viable network operating system in the future?
Our advice: The short answer is that we do not expect NetWare to be a viable network operating system for the long term.
In fact, we're somewhat surprised that Novell has been able to coax as much life from the NetWare kernel technology as it has. Novell management clearly recognizes this issue, hence its commitment to an open-source strategy for the future. Novell's new open-source strategy is sound, revenue growth has returned, and the company is profitable -- but NetWare is the company's past, not its future.
Our primary recommendation as the strategically sound path-of-least-resistance for an enterprise with a large NetWare installed base is to migrate to Novell Open Enterprise Server as your network operating system. This will give you the least-disruptive upgrade path compared with alternatives such as other Linux versions or Microsoft Windows Server 2003, while repositioning yourselves on one of the two most likely long-term network operating system survivors (Linux and Windows). Novell itself refers to Open Enterprise Server as "the future of NetWare."
Migrating from NetWare kernel technology to Open Enterprise Server would address several concerns:
Will training for systems engineers be reasonably accessible? For the next several years this shouldn't be an issue for either the NetWare kernel or Linux. By the end of the decade, however, obtaining NetWare kernel training may be a serious issue. Given the momentum of Linux, you should have no difficulty finding Linux-trained SEs in the future.
Will there be adequate support for a mixed-platform client base? The answer to this clearly depends on what platforms are in the mix, but Open Enterprise Server is as likely to support mixed platforms as any other network operating system. The most problematic client would probably be Apple Mac OS X, but Open Enterprise Server is likely to support it at least as well as Windows servers would.
Should you, for whatever reason, not want to go the Novell Open Enterprise Server route, our other recommendations would be another Linux version, Windows, or a non-Linux Unix, in that order. In case it's not obvious from our comments above, we recommend against new deployments of NetWare 6.5.
Our advice: To communicate effectively with business management, several skills need to be mastered. These include understanding the material you are to present, understanding different presentation techniques and their characteristics, and understanding the audience being addressed.
First, establish the goals of your presentation. Why should the audience listen to you? What is the critical message you want to convey? Identify the key points you want to make, but avoid technical jargon unless your audience is technically oriented. Preparing an outline is essential. Create strong opening and closing statements that support the position(s) in the presentation. This will help grab the audience's attention.
Use words, vocal tones, and body language to demonstrate your knowledge of the topic and connection with the audience. Practice your delivery, along with any visual aids, to overcome any hesitation or nervous behavior. Listen for words you overuse or misuse, as well as for vocal pauses.
Third, and most important, you must know your audience. What are they expecting you to cover? Do they need to know the technical details, or should they be given the "50,000-foot" overview? Each audience is different, so assess who you're presenting to each time. Is your audience made up of senior executives or hands-on technicians? The most effective communication technique is different for each group, so don't take this for granted. It's essential to build rapport with your audience, to have them accept you as their peer. This will enhance and facilitate communication with them.
Finally, be prepared for questions and discussion. One can't be expected to know the answer to everything you're asked, but when you don't have the answer, note the question and the person asking, and promise to get back to them. Then do it. If you don't, your credibility with that person is ended.
Peter Schay, TAC executive VP and chief operating officer, has 30 years of experience as a senior IT executive in IT vendor and research industries. He most recently was VP and chief technology officer of SiteShell Corp. Previously at Gartner, he was group VP of global research infrastructure and support, and launched coverage of client-server computing in the early 1990s.
Stephen Rood, TAC Expert, has more than 24 years experience in the IT field specializing in developing and implementing strategic technology plans for organizations as well as senior project management and help-desk operations review. His consulting experience has included designing and implementing a state-of-the-art emergency 911 call center for the city of Newark, N.J., and managing technology refreshes for a nonprofit entertainment organization as well as a large, regional food broker. He also worked at Coopers & Lybrand, General Foods, and Survey Research. He is the author of the book "Computer Hardware Maintenance: An IS/IT Manager's Guide" that presents a model for hardware maintenance cost containment.