Shortly after accepting the position of president, Novell North America, in July of 2005, Toronto-born Susan Heystee had to quickly switch gears and turn her continent-wide responsibility into a western hemispherical one.
Novell decided to throw the Latin American regions, which include growing countries such as Brazil and Mexico, into her lap under the umbrella of Novell Americas. The move is indicative of a company who has had to reinvent itself several times during the past decade.
The traditional network operating system vendor today is firmly committed to being an identity access management and open source player. Heystee, who graduated from the University of Waterloo and still resides in Canada, said Novell’s new position has been very successful with a year over year growth rate of 287 per cent.
ITBusiness.ca recently sat down with Heystee and discussed her new role along with how she is furthering the Linux movement in Canada and Latin America.
ITBusiness.ca: How did you arrive at this position?
Susan Heystee: In July I was appointed president for North America and shortly after that the company made a decision to move to an Americas geography and have operations across Latin America predominantly in Mexico and Brazil. I am based in Boston. That is where my office is but I spend a great time in the field with customers, partners and the team. The U.S. is still part of my responsibility. It was the inclusion of Latin America. So the appointment in July was for president of North America and in August we made a change to Americas and I now have Latin America as part of that overall geography for the company.
ITB: Brazil has become a key emerging market for many other companies. It is part of the BRIC segment along with Russia, India and China. Will growing the market in Brazil be one of your biggest challenges?
SH: No, I would not say so specifically. There are couple of areas in Brazil where we see growth. One is in the identity and access management business as well as whole Linux and open source market. It is very active in both Brazil and Mexico for growth potential. The market in Brazil clearly this year will be active, being an election year, and we are seeing a lot of interest in Linux adoption in government and corporations across Brazil.
ITB: Even though you live here, why are you visiting the Novell Canada team this time?
SH: A shorter commute! No, I wanted to spend time with Don Chapman (subsidiary vice president and general manager) and the team. I wanted to meet a number of customers and partners such as Bridgepoint Health and the Region of Durham. There is a lot going on in the business here in Canada on the Linux side and I expect to be in Canada on a regular basis.
ITB: What are Novell’s goals for this year specifically in the enterprise and in the channel for Canada?
SH: I would cover the channel within the enterprise. We really are taking a leadership position in identity and access management. We are in our third generation release with IDM 3 being released. This is our main suite offering in our identity solutions. We see the opportunity to take a lot of the work we have done with customers in addition to new customers who are interested in working with us in this area. The goal for this year is to be recognized and to increase our market position in identity and access management in Canada. Second, we have been doing a lot of work in the Linux and open source area and there has been good adoption across global 2000 customers as well as state and local and private sector. Our objective there is to increase and grow our business. Clearly we have seen growth to that business year over year. It was 287 per cent growth last year and our objective is to see that grow even further. There is also a list of global partners that play a part in our open source business in Canada as well. They are IBM, HP, Dell, Unisys and SGI. Those partnerships are very important and provide a key aspect of our go to market here in Canada.
ITB: If you had to choose one area that needs improvement what would it be?
SH: I will answer that in two different ways. From a solution perspective, it is growth of really two market areas: Linux and open source business and our identity and resource management business. These are markets that are growing. Those are businesses were we have seen strong year on year growth. It is key for us to continue that momentum. On a broader base taking it to a higher level, Novell has been known in the market for secure network services and Novell today is a lot more than that. We are an infrastructure software company that provides solutions for the open enterprise. A key element for us is really changing and promoting Novell’s relevance on who we are today in the open enterprise. For some companies they think about Novell for its secure network services. We are a lot more than that today. This is an exciting time for us right now. We are building on our whole business around infrastructure that we have been known for more than 25 years. We are growing in major new areas in the market that are relevant today. Identity and security is really relevant today. Having an open source alternatives is top of mind for CIOs today as they look for more flexibility in their infrastructure and lowering their total cost of ownership. The more we change and really move that forward I think is going to be key for us.
ITB: Your company just launched an open source project for developing technology that provides application security for Linux, why is this important?
SH: This is App Armor. It is a company we acquired last year. Providing security for the Linux platform is a key requirement. We recently contributed the App Armor solution to the open source community and we will provide the subscription service to the market. We see this as a key element to our open source strategy.
ITB: Novell is firmly in Linux’ corner. However, while there’s no dispute about the growth of Linux, Canada’s top solution provider Nexinnovations went on record early in 2005 saying they do not have any Linux-based implementations on the go or on the horizon. Nor do they expect any. Company CEO Hubert Kelly told ITB sister publication Computer Dealer News that currently he does not consider Linux to be a strong solution for Canadian customers. Does this strong statement coming from one of the high tech leaders in this country hurt your company’s goal in furthering the Linux movement?
SH: Without commenting on this specific statement, the Linux market is growing in Canada. That seems to be a clear indication of both the demand and the adoption of Linux as an operating environment and open source as a platform. We are seeing that increased demand. This was quite widely published by many analysts. In terms of a firm’s adoption of Linux and open source it is determined on a case by case basis, but based on what we are seeing in that market all of the major application and enterprise software companies are embracing Linux. To what degree is based on their overall strategy from SAP, Oracle through to PeopleSoft really across the board. All the major ISVs are operating on that platform. In fact, there are thousands now that are certified. It is definitely a market that is there.
ITB: The SCO Group who is suing IBM over infringement of its Unix copyright, is about to bring Novell into its court fight. This will be the first time a Linux supplier will be named by SCO in this more than two-year old dispute. Pundits have said this lawsuit is the biggest impediment to the Linux movement, now that Novell has been dragged into this battle how will you go about counteracting these charges in Canada, the U.S. and Latin America?
SH: There has been some ongoing proceedings already between SCO and Novell as it relates to different cases. This is not something new. We do provide indemnification as part of our standard process. We are not seeing this particular case or others related to that necessarily causing an impact to Linux, open source, or the market. We saw clear growth in our Linux and open source business.
ITB: When you deal with customers in any region you are responsible for do they ever bring this SCO case up?
SH: Going back a year and half to two years ago we heard a bit more about it. Following the Daimler Chrysler judgment and just following more adoption and knowledge in the market we rarely hear questions about the SCO Group. It is extremely infrequent and when we do we can address that in a way that has been satisfactory for all the customers we have talked with. We have not seen this as an impediment to our business.
ITB: The launch of the Better Desktop initiative, a new component of the openSUSE project to improve the quality of the Linux desktop, why did the company want to do this? What is happening in the market that may have influenced the company to go in this direction?
SH: We are seeing demand in a number of areas for a desktop based on SUSE Linux. We have a major release of our Novell Linux desktop. It is called Novell Linux Desktop 10. There is also a great deal of work that we do with the open source community around the whole better desktop initiative. We see demand for this in the market. It’s not in all areas but for fix function users and development, engineering, kiosk, retail, state and local government like the city of Munich as well as other states that are adopting open source are very interested in rolling out a desktop offering from an open source perspective.
ITB: How has the Canadian region performed compared to other regions you handle and would it meet your satisfaction?
SH: We do not split out our financials for the Canadian region within the Americas.
ITB: Can you characterize the performance?
SH: The Americas has led the way with the transformation of the business. We have strong operating income and good growth especially in our key markets in identity access management as well as open source. But, we do not split out the various areas of the Americas.