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  1. Technology
July 12, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

The integration of Unix System Laboratories Inc into Novell Inc, both as a company and a technology, began in earnest last week when Novell announced it was moving Unix Labs and the Univel Inc joint venture into a newly created Unix Systems Group under Novell executive vice-president Kanwal Rekhi, one of the key architects behind the merger (CI No 2,204). Univel will be folded back into Unix Labs and cease to exist, Rekhi said, because a Unix Labs that was strictly source code provider would not be a viable business. The new group also includes Novell’s own NetWare for Unix operation, located in Sandy, Utah. Novell’s Connectivity Products Group in Provo, Utah is expected to be part of the Unix Group too. That phase of the restructuring, however, has been delayed. When it moves over, the new group’s revenue base could exceed $500m. Despite the restructuring, Unix Labs will continue to function as a free-standing subsidiary. It will continue to sell source code. However, the code it now sells will include NetWare functionality to be used or not as the buyer chooses.

Trade mark

And all products sold by any of the elements of the new Unix Systems Group, including Unix itself, will bear the single brand name UnixWare, the trademark sported until now by the Univel product line. As the joint venture between Unix Labs and Novell, Univel’s product was Unix with NetWare hooks aimed essentially at the volume Intel Corp iAPX-86 system. Its brand name – and functionality – will now be used for software spanning the desktop through the mainframe, a UnixWare EveryWhere policy meant as a counterweight to Microsoft Corp. In the six months that Novell’s takeover of Unix Labs has been pending, Novell has been reluctant to admit publicly that it would merge NetWare and Unix, despite the obvious purpose behind the merger. For the first time last week, Novell said it was anxious to consolidate development as quickly as possible. However it is still downplaying the Unix technology, products and programs going over to the Unix Group from Novell. Novell suggested that it would license the source code to other products and technologies in the future but did not identify what they might be. Rekhi indicated it could include non-Novell stuff, depending on what Unix Labs is found to need. Novell called the Unix Group’s formation the critical first step towards a cohesive Unix strategy. The restructuring bears hallmarks of a coup d’etat. Unix Labs president Roel Pieper has been shuffled to one side and given the task of defining an enterprise strategy for Novell, a short-term exercise expected to last through August. He retains his Unix Labs titles of president and chief executive, reporting to Rekhi, but, in the opinion of some, is now effectively a lame duck. One candidate flagged as a possible replacement is Unix Labs’s current second-in-command Mike DeFazio, whose steady hand on the tiller has won the confidence of its OEM customers, something Novell and Unix Labs will need through the transition period.

By Maureen O’Gara

DeFazio’s self-effacing personality also squares with the down-home values of Novell. Univel president Joel Appelbaum, who also reports to Rekhi, is believed to want the job too. Rekhi made it quite clear that he had been given the the Unix Group job because he shares Novell’s value system even though he is an outsider. Joel and Roel are not Novell people, he said, and not having a Novell man at the helm was untenable. Novell got its support for the move from its key customers, the traditional basis for its actions. It did not seek consensus from or inform Unix Labs’s OEM customers of the restructuring, setting off a flurry of concern when the on-line edition of our sister paper Unigram.X broke the story at press time last week. Novell’s moving both source code and binary into the same operational unit is expected to raise cries of conflict of interest from OEM customers such as Sun Microsystems Inc. It is also expected to raise the spectre of Unix becoming a proprietary operating system, perhaps with some justifi

cation. On a trip to Australia at the beginning of July, Novell vice-president of strategic development Jack Blount was heard to remark that Unix will be proprietary. We own it. We will have one application programming interface for people to write to. Access to source code will not be available to everyone. That’s what got Unix into its current state of 228 versions. Denying that OEM customers would protest the source+binary combination, Rekhi said Unix Labs will now be more focused on finished end-user-oriented volume products than in the past. Pursuit of volume is the key to Novell’s future security against Microsoft. OEM customers will still be able to tinker with code to optimise it for their systems, Rekhi said. However, he believes that the Intel model being put in place, with its financial efficiencies, will persuade OEM customers that it is the same kind of code they want from Unix Labs for other processors. Kanwal Rekhi has also acknowledged that Novell has little use for all the consortia created during the Unix wars, the Open Software Foundation being a case in point. Rekhi said he was unsure what ould be done about it since IBM Corp and Hewlett-Packard Co continue to fund it. He is uncertain what IBM and Hewlett are attempting to achieve or what their strategies are. However, he and Novell chairman Ray Noorda were supposed to meet with Software Foundation president David Tory last Wednesday, July 7, apparently at Tory’s instigation, to begin discussing what can be done. On the other hand, Novell will support Unix International, with which it must also talk, but not in its old capacity as a requirements body. It is interested in it as a forum for its OEM customers, whom it would rather meet collectively as a group than one-on-one. It can also help level the playing field for some 200 vendors, but Unix International is of limited use to Novell because it does not really represent end users.


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Novell would be far more interested in it if it could be made into a super-user group, Rekhi noted, along the lines of OURS, the user group that has been struggling to get organised and get a voice, a model Novell far and away prefers, and to which it has been lending support. Of course, this is exactly what X/Open Co Ltd has also been trying to do. Lastly, Novell applauds the noble aims of the Common Open Software Environment but it is highly sceptical that COSE will be effective. Rekhi pointedly stressed that Novell was not a party to it, largely on the grounds that it’s an exclusive club and a vendors’ consortium with no customer involvement, though it allowed Unix Labs and Univel to participate. Rehki said that if Novell begins to feel COSE is failing in its stated purpose, it will pull out. The Unix Systems Group is Novell’s fourth strategic business unit, joining the NetWare Systems Group, the Desktop Systems Group and the Interoperability Systems Group, which Rekhi ran until last week. Other issues remain to be resolved pending Rehki taking over day-to-day operations of the Unix Group.

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