By Brice Wallace
Deseret Morning News

Anyone with thoughts of writing off Novell Corp. might want to reconsider.

Novell's chief executive officer and president, Ron Hovsepian, told several thousand people Monday that he has "quite a long list" of reasons to be proud of the company, including a burgeoning customer base and continued innovation.

"This company has been in business for 25 years," Hovsepian said at the opening keynote presentation of the Novell BrainShare user conference at the Salt Palace. "Now, I could poll all of you and we could talk about all the companies that you've seen and I've seen over the last 25 years that are no longer in this industry, that had bursts and (have) gone away. And that's a testament to the relationship that all of you have with this company. It's a testament to what the employees have done."

The Massachusetts-based company, with about one-third of its 4,000 employees in Provo, develops enterprise infrastructure software for companies. In its first 25 years, it had more than 50,000 customers and added 8,700 last year, he said.

"Those were new relationships - people who are bringing new passion and new blood to the Novell corporation," he said. Hovsepian noted that Wal-Mart, AIG, HSBC, Peugeot, Casio and Lufthansa have selected Novell as a key partner, helping in "the renaissance and the momentum building behind this company." The company had a partner base of about 1,200 - and that total grew by 152 during the past year.

Although Hovsepian did not acknowledge it Monday, the company has trimmed its work force during the past few years. But he noted employees' "incredible level of teamwork, an incredible level of focus and great integrity for what Novell means and how we should behave."

Those employees have led to innovation through products and projects, he said. "It's an impressive history and an impressive future as I look at our pipeline of innovation."

Those elements are helping the media buzz about Novell. Hovsepian said the company was the subject of 30,000 press "hits and mentions" in the past year and about 95 percent were neutral or positive.

"I see this momentum continuing to ramp and build behind this company," he said.

Jeff Jaffe, executive vice president of business units and chief technology officer, outlined several goals for Novell, including the ability to provide companies with an "agile infrastructure" - a term many consider an oxymoron but also the "Holy Grail" for IT professionals, he said. The idea is to use technology to solve real problems for customers.

Hovsepian said Novell has positioned itself around "making IT work as one," including having people and technology working together. "At the end of the day, if we don't help you lower your costs, reduce the complexity in your shops and manage that risk," he told the crowd, "then we really haven't fulfilled that vision."

BrainShare, with about 5,500 attendees, continues through Friday at the Salt Palace.

This article was originally published online on Deseret Morning News