Novell customers have hard time finding training

Novell acknowledges shortage and is boosting online training, among other steps

Novell's steady migration to Linux and open source software as the underpinnings of its NetWare network operating system has been a success for Thomas Johnson, the CIO of US-based Metropolitan Bank Group.

Johnson, a Novell user since 1989, said the migration fit well with his company, which had already started using open source software about a year before Novell's 2003 decision to move to Linux.

That success, however, has created new problems. Metropolitan Bank Group has trouble finding adequate training for its IT workers in Novell and open source applications. The bank is also often hard-pressed to find qualified workers with adequate technical knowledge of the products.

It was a problem that had many attendees nodding in agreement at the annual Novell Brainshare 2008 conference, which is being held in the US.

"It's hard to find Linux and Novell experts," said Johnson, who described the problems during a panel discussion yesterday with five Novell customers. "Everybody's Microsoft everything," he said of most of the prospective talent pool he sees. "It's very weak on the Linux side. It's still kind of a maturing space. A lot of people out there don't have the business side in mind" when getting their training and certifications in some products at the expense of others.

Johnson said Novell needs to do more to encourage IT professionals to get Novell and open-source product experience to fill the needs of Novell's customers.

"Within the Novell [open source] community, it's great," he said. But finding qualified, skilled help to work inside his business is often a bust, he said. "When it comes to hiring people, that's been a challenge for us."

Five years ago, Novell took a giant leap when it announced that it would adopt Linux as its NetWare migration path in an effort to reinvigorate its business amid a steady decline in sales and revenue.

Less than seven months after that road map announcement, Novell took another big step, acquiring Linux vendor SUSE Linux AG to help move its strategy forward. While those business-changing moves paid off for Novell in the marketplace over the past few years, the company is facing unintended consequences. It may not have been fully prepared to support those successes.

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Todd R. Weiss

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