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RedMonk Analytics Custom and The State of Novell

The State of Novell
View more presentations from sogrady.

In early January, I released my annual set of predictions for the upcoming year. Among them was the contention that “Ubuntu will emerge as the de facto alternative at the expense of SuSE.”

As might be imagined, the people at Novell had questions about this assertion. These we discussed during a briefing on January 26th. To their credit, the SUSE team was polite and respectful, even as we fundamentally disagreed.

Their view – bolstered subsequently by high profile wins such as the London Stock Exchange and Watson – was that SUSE was performing well across a number of metrics from revenue to ISV recruitment.

My own is that SUSE faces some fundamental challenges.

The disconnect is simple to explain: we advantage different metrics. Our belief at RedMonk is that more often than not, sustainable performance is most strongly correlated with developer traction, visibility and usage. Revenue, shipments and profit are excellent at measuring how you’re performing now; they are less adept at anticipating future direction.

Developer adoption, on the other hand, is, in our view, highly predictive. It is difficult to identify cases where volume adoption of a given technology has not resulted in its success. Profit potential varies, of course, according to a number of variables from licensing model to addressable market size. But historically, optimizing for developer adoption is a sound strategy; it is arguably true that this correlation is becoming stronger.

The metrics we look at at RedMonk, then, are intended to quantitatively assess developer opinion. There is no single metric for accomplishing this; instead we employ – depending on the subject – varying combinations of public and private data sources to form a larger narrative. Even trivia like Google Trends search data has significance when used in context.

Sometimes the conclusions reached merely validate the conventional wisdom; Amazon Web Services is one such example – it is just as popular as commonly believed. More often, our explorations of developer traction turn up less understood strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement.

We perform these analyses regularly for research aimed at particular developer communities; my FOSDEM talk “The Rise and Fall and Rise of Java” [coverage] was one such. But we also perform them regularly on behalf of clients, whether they want us to measure them at a corporate level or to look at specific products or platforms.

And while Novell is not currently a RedMonk client, having prepared a few of the charts in preparation for my call with the firm, I thought the embedded slides might be useful both for those wondering how I came to the conclusions I did regarding Novell and for those curious about how RedMonk tries to quantitatively measure developer traction. This is just a sample report, and does not include the executive summary, remediation recommendations or backup data, but it communicates the essence of what RedMonk Analytics Custom offers.

As W. Edwards Deming once said, “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” The State of Novell and indeed all of our “State of $YOURCOMPANY” reports are us attempting to comply. The slides above are a measurement of how we see the firm performing according to a few of the metrics we believe are important. As such, it is a complement to, rather than replacement for, your traditional research services. We do not discount wholesale cited revenue performance metrics, marquee account wins and so on. We simply believe that relative to bottom up adoption and usage, they are less likely to be predictive.

If you’d like to see how your company or product is performing, we’ve got RedMonk Analytics Custom packages available for existing clients and a la carte options for those who aren’t working with us.

For the developers in the audience, we hope you find this research of interest, and feel free to let us know if there’s something you want us to look at.

Disclosure: Novell, as disclosed above, is not a RedMonk client. Mentioned competitors Canonical (Ubuntu), Microsoft, and Red Hat (Fedora) are RedMonk customers.

Categories: Linux, Operating Systems, RedMonk Analytics.

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  • http://dberkholz.com/ Donnie Berkholz

    Interesting slide deck. I might consider emphasizing the client by putting everyone else’s data in shades of gray and the client in red.

  • http://redmonk.com/sogrady sogrady

    @Donnie Berkholz: do you mean emphasizing Novell (who isn’t actually a client here) for the sake of readability, or emphasizing who’s a client and who’s not for the sake of disclosure?

  • http://dberkholz.com/ Donnie Berkholz

    Sorry I didn’t get back to this for a while, the inability to subscribe to comment updates is really crippling.

    I meant emphasizing the theoretical client, not disclosure. People love to hear about themselves and know exactly where they stand immediately, then zoom out to the context.

  • Pingback: Novell Leeching More, Creating Less | Techrights

  • Nigel Fortlage

    Interesting proposition you present, while I do not know enough of the developer space to comment contrary to you, I would suggest that there are a few other elements that must be considered in support of your position, in my case from a CIO perspective and a reference customer for Novell SUSE.

    Novell prior to the acquisition has done a great job of staying pace with IBM Power platform (my platform of choice), while history (I was a Red Hat reference customer) tells me that Red Hat was and still is by all accounts a fast follower in this space. Even when SUSE was acquired by Novell that didn’t slip. I haven’t heard anything about the position of Attachmate on this issue (ie: their partners they are tight with).
    Attachmate is a legacy connection company, what does the acquisition have to do with their business as the connection is less than clear, that worries me.
    Attachmate has aligned itself with a consortium of players including Microsoft and that group has acquired some patents, for what? What has Attachmate put at risk by selling patents to a group of parties who have historically been against open source products and initiatives.
    If for a moment I assume that Suse’s future is bleak, then where do I turn for options? Where do I port my existing distributions and applications? Depending upon platform (IBM Power in my case) who supports that platform. Only 3 options appear as viable corporate options; Red Hat, Debian, and Ubuntu. I already have a past working relationship with Red Hat that resulted in me having to change for various reasons that I won’t unpack here.
    Novell’s lack of Market presence is not only visible in the developer space, they have also been missing in action at the various CIO related events I have attended across North America. Red Hat has only a slightly better performance. SUSE prior to the Novell acquisition was everywhere and creating a real buzz and convincing decision makers to make the switch. So how do they win market share by being quiet and silent to audiences? That is where your position makes it clear that you must build it and they will come.

    So in the absence of information, any at all publicly would be helpful, one has to wonder what will happen with the great SUSE distribution we have come to love. Has Attachmate been used as a patsy to make the acquisition and facilitate the sale to the group? Does Attachmate have real intentions to developing and supporting this market as a new business for them? What intellectual property has been sold as part of this deal and does it put the IT market at Risk? If SUSE was to have no future, what does this do for Oracle’s Hardened Linux distribution?

    Too many questions and little to no answers makes me very uneasy. I don’t bet with my business, we make informed decisions and so far the only information I have says we go Debian/Ubuntu in the future. That can change if we get real information in the market to address all these unknown’s, but time is running out and contracts come up for renewal.

  • http://redmonk.com/sogrady sogrady

    The following comment was relayed via Nigel Fortlage:

    Interesting proposition you present, while I do not know enough of the developer space to comment contrary to you, I would suggest that there are a few other elements that must be considered in support of your position, in my case from a CIO perspective and a reference customer for Novell SUSE.

    1) Novell prior to the acquisition has done a great job of staying pace with IBM Power platform (my platform of choice), while history (I was a Red Hat reference customer) tells me that Red Hat was and still is by all accounts a fast follower in this space. Even when SUSE was acquired by Novell that didn’t slip. I haven’t heard anything about the position of Attachmate on this issue (ie: their partners they are tight with).

    2) Attachmate is a legacy connection company, what does the acquisition have to do with their business as the connection is less than clear, that worries me.

    3) Attachmate has aligned itself with a consortium of players including Microsoft and that group has acquired some patents, for what? What has Attachmate put at risk by selling patents to a group of parties who have historically been against open source products and initiatives.

    4) If for a moment I assume that Suse’s future is bleak, then where do I turn for options? Where do I port my existing distributions and applications? Depending upon platform (IBM Power in my case) who supports that platform. Only 3 options appear as viable corporate options; Red Hat, Debian, and Ubuntu. I already have a past working relationship with Red Hat that resulted in me having to change for various reasons that I won’t unpack here.

    5) Novell’s lack of Market presence is not only visible in the developer space, they have also been missing in action at the various CIO related events I have attended across North America. Red Hat has only a slightly better performance. SUSE prior to the Novell acquisition was everywhere and creating a real buzz and convincing decision makers to make the switch. So how do they win market share by being quiet and silent to audiences? That is where your position makes it clear that you must build it and they will come.

    So in the absence of information, any at all publicly would be helpful, one has to wonder what will happen with the great SUSE distribution we have come to love. Has Attachmate been used as a patsy to make the acquisition and facilitate the sale to the group? Does Attachmate have real intentions to developing and supporting this market as a new business for them? What intellectual property has been sold as part of this deal and does it put the IT market at Risk? If SUSE was to have no future, what does this do for Oracle’s Hardened Linux distribution?

    Too many questions and little to no answers makes me very uneasy. I don’t bet with my business, we make informed decisions and so far the only information I have says we go Debian/Ubuntu in the future. That can change if we get real information in the market to address all these unknown’s, but time is running out and contracts come up for renewal.