Novell chief nixes rumours of company's sale

Although Novell chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt was at the Java Internet Business Expo to make the company's pitch for credibility in the Java space, the question on everybody's lips was whether the rumors that IBM might be in the market to buy Novell were true. When he was asked that specific question, his immediate response was to say that 'Novell is not for sale' and then qualified his denial by saying that he was 'not allowed' to comment on specific rumors.

Although Novell chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt was at the Java Internet Business Expo to make the company's pitch for credibility in the Java space, the question on everybody's lips was whether the rumors that IBM might be in the market to buy Novell were true.

Schmidt did not refer to the rumors during his prepared remarks, but during a question-and-answer session that followed he was asked that specific question. His immediate response was to say that "Novell is not for sale," but he then qualified this by saying that he was "not allowed" to comment on specific rumors.

The keynote itself returned to many of the themes of his recent industry addresses. Schmidt discussed how the technology industry continues to go through "inversions" from mainframe-centric to client/server computing, and from a pull-based browsing approach to a push model.

From this starting point, however, Schmidt went on to discuss how this paradigm will be played out in the world of Java. Until now, he said, the emphasis has consistently been on developing Java-based client applications, but that "the money is in the middle tier; the real opportunity is network-aware applications primarily on the server." Server-based Java applications have the advantages of "richer network services, [and] easier tools and interfaces," he added.

For this reason, Schmidt said, the debate over whether thin clients will take off as a concept has been misguided because "it's not a question of if there'll be a thin client, it's a question of which one."

However, Schmidt cautioned that the industry is still a ways away from fulfilling the promise of Java. To get there, he said that Java must first be fast and scalable and also as secure as C and C++.

Setting the background for this vision, Schmidt also discussed the trends that he believes are leading to this situation. Commenting that the industry is constantly striving for the next killer application, he said that it is already apparent.

"What is the next killer application? Bandwidth: It's all about bandwidth and what you can do with it," Schmidt said. That is why the telecommunications industry is now worth $650 billion, and why there is a shortage of high-speed lines, he added.

At the heart the whole Java issue, Schmidt said, is the question of what users really want. And he was ready with his answer: "What our customers want is a ubiquitous connected data network." And it is through Java that this will be achieved, he said.

Novell Inc., in Orem, Utah, is at http://www.novell.com/.

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