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Can new executives deliver on Novell's open source vision?

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In Part 1 of my look at Novell last week, my topic was empty chairs. This week I'll look at the other side of the story. There are new bodies occupying key seats at Novell these days, a sure sign that the company's bid to regain its prominence in the server software market isn't over yet.

Trying out the chair in his office at Novell headquarters for the first time this very morning is Jeffrey Jaffe. Previously, Jaffe had been president of Lucent Technologies' storied Bell Labs. Today he begins his tenure as Novell's executive vice president and CTO, the company's first technology officer since Alan Nugent left the position in March.

Although Jaffe brings considerable technical acumen to the table, the job he's taking on won't be easy. As I mentioned last week, financial analysts and key Novell shareholders have been clamoring for change, both in the company's direction and to its product line. In particular, they want to see Novell increase its emphasis on open source. When I spoke to Jaffe last week, he made it clear that he fully intends to meet that demand.

"I've believed for a long time, actually starting from when I was at IBM, that open source and open standards are what customers want," Jaffe said. "They want it because it gives them choice, and they want it because it gives them low-cost computing, ultimately."

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