01.20.10

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Novell Slammed for Spreading Disinformation About Google

Posted in FUD, Google, Java, Mail, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, SUN at 4:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: David Berlind catches a bashful Novell after it use of FUD tactics against Google, leaving Novell’s PR people with no choice but to retract statements

Groupwise is a major loser in Los Angeles. This is a dangerous development to Novell because it may lead to other deployers of Groupwise to follow the “Los Angeles model”. Ian Bruce, Novell’s PR Director, was publicly denounced for attacking Los Angeles after its decision [1, 2, 3]. It is a terrible PR move, but Bruce is relatively new at the job (his predecessor decided to quit Novell in 2008).

Bruce did not learn his lesson the first time around; he is pretentiously doing it again, only to be caught off guard by David Berlind, who did an excellent job deconstructing Bruce and his PR team. It looks very bad for Novell, which will need to mend its message to the public after the “Berlind treatment”. Here is how he put it in his blog:

Had Novell’s director of public relations Ian Bruce not responded to my blog post about Google’s choice to change Gmail’s default transmission mode from the less secure HTTP (Web) to the more secure and encrypted HTTPS (Secure Web), I would have never seen his own blog post on Novell’s Web site entitled On Google, e-mail security, and cloud. But I’m glad I saw it. It’s evidence of how some vendors might be too quick to throw fuel on the fire of misinformation in order to draw positive attention to themselves.

[...]

I mentioned to Bruce that his post and the way in which it connected the China/Google incident to a positive message about Novell left a bad taste in my mouth.

In reply, Bruce said “the leading disadvantage of cloud is perceived to be security and my point is that this incident is just going to reinforce that perception. We as an industry have work around the perception that cloud-based computing is inherently insecure. That was more of the point. There may be some security issues with Gmail.”

Which is where I interrupted him and asked “But what security issues with Gmail?” Bruce then asked me what has been reported and I updated him on what is known about the attack.

In response, Bruce said “If people or the browser were involved, then I would revise my post. The main point however, whether real or imaginary, is that there’s a perception that the cloud is insecure and as an industry, we have to correct that perception.”

In response to our call, Bruce has so far replied in the comments area to my original post. In that reply Bruce wrote:

I agree we’re still learning what was at the root of the security breach – when I wrote my 1/13 post the details were very sketchy. The latest news suggest IE and not PDF vulnerabilities, and the WSJ reports Google is investigating its Chinese staff, but the picture is still incomplete.

My intention in my post was to point out that whatever the cause, the news from Google will only exacerbate existing concerns about cloud security overall, and this will slow adoption.

In a follow up email, Bruce said to expect a revision to his original blog post on Novell’s Web site.

Also in the news this week:

Los Angeles agreed in October to replace its Novell GroupWise collaboration system with the hosted Google Apps software tools.

Interestingly enough, while Novell throws FUD (which it cannot defend) right at Google’s face, Novell also collaborates with Google in the sense that it tries to make Pulse compatible with Wave. Novell is trying to latch onto Google’s success (or ride the Wave), based on this news article from ZDNet Australia, which says:

Novell announced plans for Pulse in November last year, and is scheduled to release the product later in 2010. Initially it will be offered as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) package.

[...]

“We need to continue to work out where the line is between Google Wave the product and Wave the technology. We need more use cases like Novell Pulse to figure out where that line should be.”

It is important to remember that Google’s eternal CEO, Eric Schmidt, actually came from Novell. He was also on Apple’s board until not so long ago — a fact that’s pointed out in Business Week now that Apple and Google are directly competing against each other (just like Novell and Google, especially when it comes to E-mail and collaboration).

Jobs and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, both 54, spent years in separate battles against Microsoft (MSFT) while Schmidt was at Sun Microsystems (JAVA) and Novell (NOVL).

Schmidt was a proponent of Java not only when he was at Sun but also when he was at Novell; how sad it must be that Novell is now antagonising Java by promoting Microsoft and Microsoft’s poor imitation of Java.

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