Novell Canada’s new president sounds off on Microsoft, SaaS

Chicago native Katie McAuliff has spent 13 years of her professional career at Novell and she says this is the most exciting time ever for her at the company.

The reason for her excitement isn’t so much that she was named the first female president in Novell Canada history, but more about the company’s position of strength in the marketplace.

Novell, with a recently-formed partnership with archrival Microsoft, has made major strides in the data centre space and on the desktop with Suse Linux.

With this newfound momentum, McAuliff has three goals for Novell Canada this year: increase the visibility of the brand, leverage its partner ecosystem and sharpen the subsidiary’s focus on the execution of open source to financial services and identity management for health care.

“We want to focus the right partner with the right solution for the right vertical (market) to meet the right business needs,” she said.

Computing Canada sat down Wednesday with McAuliff to discuss her new role at the company.


Computing Canada: What interested you in the job?

Katie McAuliff: This to me presents an opportunity to continue to grow personally and to learn a bit about international business. Canada has some unique differences based upon my prior experiences. So for me it is an opportunity to grow, learn and take on some new challenges and get some different things done for Novell.

CC: You’re taking over from someone who has been the face of Novell Canada for a long time. Do you worry about putting your own stamp on the company?

KM: It doesn’t enter my mind. This is an opportunity to have some fun and create some momentum and successes for customers and partners. Certainly Novell Canada has a great name. Don and I have known each other for many years. We worked together many times at many events over the years. I have great respect for him. He would also agree with me that you have to move the company forward. That will be my charter going forward.

CC: What has been the enterprise reaction to the Microsoft-Novell partnership?

KM: It’s been excellent. I’ve had several joint meetings as had the team with Microsoft in front of enterprise organizations. I have spoken and met with some of the Microsoft executives and we have other organizations targeted to speak to jointly and the response I would say has been overwhelmingly positive. At the end of the day the agreement is about customers. If you put anything else aside and question the people and dig and delve into the many parts of it, this benefits customers between two large organizations with excellent solutions in the data centre. We will work together seamlessly. The enterpris reaction to that has been excellent. They do not want vendors to finger-point. They are not interested in having confusion. You will also see from Novell Canada some organizations that will be taking advantage of the partnership between Novell and Microsoft, which will be announced in March.

CC: How long before Novell just spins off its ZenWorks line, considering it’s so successful on its own?

KM: As an organization there are five areas that we focus in: data centre solutions, security and identity, resource management, workgroup and Linux desktop. Resource management is one of the five areas. You can actually say we have four areas we focus in because desktop and data centre both have to do with Linux and open source. So the debate is between five and four. But, the bottom line is resource management is one of the pillars of our strategy.

You will see, as I said, in March of this year some significant announcements in this space about data centre management. Novell being in the data centre space makes us just by nature of the technology solutions we provide there very strategic to many organizations. Providing data centre solutions is a little different in terms of uptime requirement than, say, who we were 10 years ago and what file and print might be perceived as, for instance. Data centre is very mission-critical. ZenWorks technology will play very heavily in this and you will see a number of announcements. We will be changing the architecture so Zen assess management, patch management and some of the other technologies acquired will be able to be administered seamlessly and easily from an end user perspective. The architecture will come together as a resource management solution from data centre to desktop to mobile devices. And, it will be powerful. If you look at the growth in this space it is, I would not want to say ridiculous, but it would be interesting for us not to be in this space because this is a space that is seriously growing.

CC: What do you think of the whole software-as-a-service model and how it might play at Novell?

KM: It does play a role for us today. Software-as-a-Service is really about the flexibility of an architecture. You can componentize and break them up and apply them when you need them especially in portals and in health care. Being able to call on different piece based upon a specific need. I do think it is valuable. It is an architecture play and it integrates into our technology in different ways, but if I am a customer or consumer of technology it gives me the ability to be very flexible in taking what I got in my bag of IT tricks and applying it to my business.

CC: One of the criticisms from customers here on subsidiary leadership is that having Americans run a Canadian subsidiary shows a lack of commitment. How will customers know Novell Canada won’t be a revolving door?

KM: I can tell you that Novell, as a corporation, has a great career development process. That is very important to us and as you would expect when working in different organizations with different teams in different markets at different levels, perhaps even going form general management to product management, those types of experiences build well-rounded senior executives. That is critical to us and is part of our career development philosophy. I will stay very connected to my old markets and my old customers in the mid-west. I believe the responsibility of any executive role is to provide continuity before and after they do any job or assignment and to less the impact on the transition. I am very committed to Novell Canada. I will be moving here to this country and Toronto. I am committed to the customers and the team. You will see that this year.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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