Novell is an American high-technology corporation specialising in network and internet software products, traditionally directory-enabled networking. In 2001, the company made a net loss of $273273 million on sales of $1.04 billion, including a $208 million investment impairment charge.
The company began in Provo, Utah as Novell Data Systems Inc. in 1979, a hardware manufacturer producing CP/M based systems. In January 1983, the company was renamed Novell Inc., and Ray Noorda became the head of the firm. Also in 1983, the company introduced its most significant product, the multi-platform network operating system (NOS), NetWare.
Novell based its network protocol on XNS, and created its own standards from IDP and SPP, which it named IPX (Internet Packet eXchange) and SPX (Sequenced Packet eXchange). File and print services ran on the NCP (NetWare Core Protocol) over IPX, as did routing information (RIP) and services information (SAP). To accompany this, Novell touted Novell DOS, similar to MS-DOS.
Novell did extremely well throughout the 1980s, acting aggressively to increase the market initially by selling the expensive ethernet cards at cost; by 1990, Novell had an almost monopolistic position in NOS for any business requiring a network. However, Novell was also diversifying unwisely, moving away from its smaller users to target large corporations, underinvesting in research and leaving their key product opaque and difficult to control and administer. In 1993, the company bought Unix System Laboratories from AT&T, giving them rights to the original UNIX kernel, apparently in an attempt to strike at Microsoft. Novell also bought WordPerfect, Digital Research, and Quattro Pro. UNIX was sold to SCO in 1995, DR went to Caldera Systems, and WordPerfect to Corel.
As Novell's performance faded in the face of new competition, Noorda was pushed out in 1994 and in around 1996 the company began a belated move into internet-enabled products, ditching the proprietary network protocol in favor of native IP. The move was accelerated when Eric Schmidt became CEO in 1997, and the result was NetWare 5 and the associated directory services through Novell Directory Services. With falling revenues, the company pushed hard at net services and platform interoperability.
In July 2002, Novell acquired SilverStream Software, a leader in Web services-oriented application development. The business area called Novell exteNd contains XML and Web Service tools based on J2EE.
In August 2003, Novell acquired Ximian, a developer of open source Linux applications. This is significant, because Novell now plans to move its NetWare product to the Linux kernel by the time of its next release.
Novell Data Systems was co-founded by George Canova. The name for the company Novell was suggested by Canova's wife who mistakenly thought that "Novell" meant "new" in French.