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Novell faithful flock to BrainShare

Novell users from around the world will unite at BrainShare 2002 this week. What's on their minds? The stability of Novell and the latest in network software technology.

Novell users from around the world will unite at BrainShare 2002, Novell's annual user conference, held March 17-22 in Salt Lake City. Conference organizers expect more than 5,000 attendees, a respectable showing considering current trade show and travel declines, but down from last year's more than 7,000.

This year's conference marks the first BrainShare since Novell's July 2001 acquisition of consulting firm Cambridge Technology Partners. Long-time Novell users are interested to see just how the balance between technology and business sense will be achieved, if it can be at all. "I'm curious to see what the 'new blood' has to say," said Robert Gleason, a systems integrator in his eighth year of BrainShare attendance. "I'm committed to NetWare -- it's the best network software by far. But the state of the company makes me a little nervous."

Keynote addresses will be delivered by chairman and CEO Jack Messman, vice chairman Chris Stone, senior vice president Carl Ledbetter, and Drew Major, chief technology officer of Novell subsidiary Volera. Stone joined Novell in his newly created position on Feb. 26, and Ledbetter's responsibilities expanded on March 4 to encompass his former position as chief technology officer as well as senior vice president, engineering/research and development.

BrainShare's technical content looks promising, with 270 technical sessions -- including developer tutorials, case studies, and business solutions presentations -- many of which are already booked to capacity. IS manager John Margrove has his agenda scheduled down to the minute, concentrating on learning about Web services integration. "If it runs on NetWare or uses eDirectory and is Web-related, I want to know about it," he said.

Likewise, Novell user Rick Laughinghouse is taking advantage of the sessions to achieve a specific goal: "I am looking forward to seeing ZENworks 4 for the first time. I expect to see the new features of the product and plan to evaluate whether to wait for the release of ZEN 4 or move forward with ZEN 3.2," he said.

For those attendees preferring a hands-on experience, a popular BrainShare destination is the Learning Zone. With 200 computers connected to multiple servers, this area provides free access to self-study courses, online mentoring and labs, self-test exams and Novell software manuals. In addition, Novell's one Net Solutions Lab provides hands-on demonstrations of 90 different Novell product configurations, and will be open for extended hours this year.

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