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Novell (NASDAQ:NOVL) named Javier Colado to oversee the company's partner programs on September 12. Many pundits say Colado has to strengthen Novell’s SUSE Linux partner ranks. But in reality, I think Colado has to build a bridge between vastly different software islands.

Novell has recruited more than 2,000 ISVs (independent software vendors) to back SUSE Linux. And that momentum will continue this week when Novell participates in Lenovo’s (OTCPK:LNVGY) first server announcements at the Interop trade show.

Now, the challenges. Novell also offers identity management, security, systems management, collaboration and virtualization software. It’s clear how certain components — such as virtualization and Linux — complement each other. But Novell must find a way to cross-train and certify the bulk of its partners across all of those product sets.

Novell's primary rival, Red Hat (NYSE:RHT), has found a successful one-two punch with open source operating systems (Linux) and open source middleware (JBoss). Yes, Red Hat stumbled quite a bit initially after acquiring JBoss, but recent quarterly results suggest the JBoss acquisition is now paying dividends.

How does that compare at Novell? Chief Marketing Officer John Dragoon says the goal is to make SUSE Linux the most manageable, scalable, reliable platform to the desktop to the data center. Verbally, Dragoon connects the dots between Novell’s disparate products. And he notes that Novell’s security and identity management sales have been strong.

But I wonder: How many Novell partners can build bridges between SUSE Linux, identity and security management, systems management, collaboration and virtualization?

Until those individual products come together as true solutions, the Novell “whole” will remain weaker than its parts.

CEO’s Right-Hand Man

Colado, named to the channel chief position on Sept. 12, reports directly to Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian — meaning that channel sales are a strategic priority within Novell’s executives ranks. According to a Novell statement:

Since 2006 Colado has served as Novell area general manager and vice president for western Europe, Middle East, and Africa where he was responsible for all operations, sales and marketing. Prior to Novell, Colado held senior executive positions with McAfee and Lucent Technologies, where he helped spearhead business partner and channel strategy and sales.

Now it’s up to Colado to tell partners how Novell’s various products fit together.

Disclosure: none

Source: Novell: Colado Faces Key Challenge