As a follow-up to yesterday’s blog entry, in a somewhat stunning reversal, Novell has announced that it is changing its policy (that is technically unannounced at this point, but had been outed in a Novell Community Chat post on September 18). I’m very pleased that Novell was listening to us. If you took my advice yesterday and contacted someone at Novell to voice your concerns, please now take the time to thank him or her for taking your concerns to heart. I can tell you that there are still many concerns remaining, but we need to recognize that Novell has made a big first step here. I hope that most of our readers will “get it” and let Novell know that we believe they have heard at least SOME of our concerns.
After what can only be described as outrage by the community, Novell has made the following statement directly to those who were so vocal:
As a result of your feedback and further analysis on our part, I’d like to let you know that we have decided NOT to move forward with the knowledgebase portion of the plan. To be clear, ALL knowledgebase content, including Technical Information Documents, for all Novell products will continue to be freely available to all Novell customers and partners — regardless of maintenance or subscription status.
Your comments reminded us that our knowledgebase is a critical self-support mechanism for Novell products and that Novell support forums are greatly enriched by the direct and valuable contributions of a community, including many of you. Accordingly, continuing access to these resources on an unrestricted basis is the right choice.
We do intend to proceed with our planned policy changes requiring current maintenance to access patches and support packs. We recognize, however, that a longer notification period would allow customers to properly plan and budget for this change. As a result, we will be announcing a new date when this policy will go into effect
We fundamentally believe in the value of our maintenance program and the quality and functional enhancements we deliver through our patch and service pack updates.
We appreciate the quick and candid feedback this community provided. We believe these changes balance the concerns you’ve raised and our ability to deliver innovation and support over the long run.
Thank you again for your passion and support of Novell.
While this does not address all of the concerns of the community, it does address a very important one for the Novell Support Forums and customers who are accustommed to finding answers to problems quickly and accurately through the Knowledgebase: The Knowledgebase will continue to remain open and freely available. Having certain Knowledgebase entries be available only to customers on maintenance would have severely tied the hands of the volunteers on the forums (of which I am one!) when assisting customers with problems, and would even have placed a greater burden on customers who currently have maintenance by requiring that all employees be “allowed” to see the TIDs through their eLogin accounts. I see this as a great victory by the community, and it could not have happened without Novell’s customers letting Novell know that they are unhappy with the situation. Clearly Novell was listening (as this was a great concern of those who understand the value of the Novell community and the need for easy access to self-support documents to solve problems).
However, Novell is forging along with their plan to restrict patches to customers on maintenance, but is delaying that plan to some as yet unknown future date. This delay gives us as customers, consultants and supporters an opening to remind Novell of the problems with this idea. Here are some of my thoughts on this.
One of the things that was clear in the discussions at Novell Community Chat was that many customers have become unhappy with the quality of Novell products over the years. I had sincerely hoped that in Novell’s message to the community, Ms. O’Keefe would have mentioned this. She did not. I think I can understand why. It is difficult to admit that your customers are unhappy with your product quality, and then tell them that they must purchase maintenance in order to receive the fixes required to restore the underlying quality of said product. So Novell, if you move ahead with this plan, you can expect to hear more of your customers demanding that 1) patches be rolled out faster and 2) patches deal with ALL of the bugs that your customers deem as critical and important, and not just those that are deemed so by Novell. Perhaps instead, Novell could make certain patches available to maintenance customers SOONER than others. Or make only the most recent patches available only to maintenance, but allow older patches to be freely downloaded. I think there is still room for discussion on these issues, and I urge you to think about them and let the people at Novell know what you think.
For today, however, I hope that everyone will give Novell a good pat on the back for changing course a bit, and giving us some room to breathe. Let those whom you contacted yesterday with your concerns know that you appreciate their responsiveness. We can always start our lobbying efforts against the rest of the plan again next week 🙂