Acquisition brought focus to Novell, says Attachmate

Despite initial uncertainty, the Attachmate acquisition apparently worked out for all involved

At first there was a period of uncertainty surrounding the Attachmate Group’s acquisition of Novell last year, but Attachmate Group chairman and CEO, Jeff Hawn, says it worked out in the end.

When speaking about the uncertainty, Hawn is referring to concerns about the future of Novell when Attachmate was going to acquire it in April 2011.

“That period of uncertainty is always a difficult period for a company and its customers,” he said.

What Attachmate would eventually decide to do is take the identity, and security and datacentre management assets of Novell and put them with NetIQ.

“NetIQ is a good brand name for systems and security management, so that was a good fit there,” Hawn said.

Attachmate also took SUSE Linux out of the organisation and made it its own business unit on par with the others.

“With respect to Novell, it was about the collaboration and asset management capabilities,” Hawn said.

“We felt that it would be the business unit that would focus on mobility, which was beginning to emerge and is now a strong trend within our governmental and commercial enterprises.”

The end result of the acquisition would be the Attachmate Group consisting of four business units, Attachmate, NetIQ, SUSE, and Novell.

Hawn said the transition has “gone very well considering business is hard.”

“SUSE, while it was in a good growth market, was shrinking when we acquired it,” he said.

SUSE was down 15 per cent when Attachmate acquired them, but Hawn said the business unit would go up 15 per cent after the acquisition.

“We essentially had the elusive V-shaped recovery that economies and companies are looking for,” he said.

Hawn adds that the first objective following the acquisition was to stabilise the customer base, and he says the company has accomplished that.

No separation anxiety

As for what Attachmate’s leadership has brought the individual business units, Novell president and general manager, Bob Flynn, says there is now a degree of specialisation where there was not before.

“When you look at the development of the software, all I work on are the products in Novell,” he said.

“In the former Novell world, the engineers worked on SUSE Linux and NetIQ products.”

As a result of that, Flynn says “something gets undervalued and underinvested.”

“In the SUSE case, the specialisation resulted in the V-shaped growth,” he said.

While Novell products may have been underserved in the past, Flynn says with the benefit of specialisation Novell has able to overcome that and reinitiate some business with customers.

From a local reseller perspective, Attachmate Group Asia Pacific vice-president and general manager, Boris Ivancic, highlights the skill sets are different between the different product groups.

“In that sense, we have a slightly different relationship between different resellers across the business units,” he said.

“We have very few resellers that carry all four, and I’d be hard pressed to find any that carry two over their portfolios.”

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