The Wizard Moved Out

Novell's former chief scientist has a new home. Can he build another Emerald City?

Meet Drew Major—for the second time.

Most Novell watchers call Major the "Father of NetWare"—the operating system that gave rise to PC networks in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Unlike high-profile programmers like Lotus Notes veteran Ray Ozzie, Major is a technical wizard who typically works behind the curtains, while marketing executives occupy center stage.

After a 20-year run at Novell, Major intends to build another software empire, this time as chief technology officer of Volera Inc. Even though Major has a new address, hes in very familiar territory. Novell launched Volera in February as an operating company that offers Internet caching and content management services. Voleras software speeds Net performance and could pave the way for IP-based video services. Accenture and Nortel Networks are expected to take equity positions in Volera by May, and Novell hopes to launch an IPO for Volera as soon as late 2002.

The strategy sounds very promising, but Novell has stumbled down similar brick roads before. History shows that each time Novell attempts to step beyond NetWare, a house of horrors seemingly falls from the sky. Novells AppWare, DR-DOS, WordPerfect and UnixWare initiatives all got squashed in the mid-1990s. And a 1997 deal with Netscape Communications to launch an Internet company, known as Novonyx, was a major dud that Novell later reabsorbed.