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NetWare Centers and NetWare Everywhere

The Life and Death of a Big Mistake

In the 1985–87 period Novell went through huge cultural changes associated with its growth and success. It grew from a small hopeful company with a big dream into a large successful company that made that dream come true. It grew from Utah-centric to polycentric, from a company in a converted truck dealership to a company that built its own buildings in a new industrial park, from a company that few people had heard of into a company that was making a brand new multibillion-dollar high tech industry. These were stupendous changes, and there were many growing pains associated with the transition.

Businesses are not run in a state of perfection. The real world is a messy place. What happens in the real world is that multiple attempts are made to solve real world problems. Many of those attempts are quietly successful and are used for years and years without notice. Many more are quietly unsuccessful and are quickly replaced with new efforts to solve the problem.

Once in a while there is a spectacular success or a spectacular failure. Novell as a whole was a spectacular success, but within that success were many quiet, and a few spectacular, failures.

The story of one spectacular failure, the NetWare Centers of the mid-’80s, shows how an idea can evolve from good in concept and precedent to sour in execution, and how the sour result was ultimately dealt with.

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