Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Uncle Ray died on Monday

Former Novell head Ray Noorda died on Monday, but I'll always refer to him as Uncle Ray, an affectionate term coined in the realm of NetWare users. Noorda always had time for the users, and he made sure that the rest of his company took that time, also.

It was Noorda who instigated the peer-to-peer support forums of NetWire, where I got to both learn about NetWare as well as pass on that knowledge to others.

It was also Ray who coined the term "coopetition," the spirit of cooperating with your competitors to advance the needs of everyone's users. Even as Microsoft challenged Novell for leadership in the networking arena - a task they didn't finish until after Noorda left the company - he insured that users of Redmond's desktop systems could easily connect to his company's servers by bringing together Novell & Microsoft engineers to cooperatively design client software.

Still, he never got over the brash and rude treatment that Bill Gates offered him when he simply wanted to help the struggling operating system company get started. He was determined to beat Microsoft in all areas of computing, including the application space. Most will remember him for this rash action which ultimately led to his ouster from Novell.

But a few of us, I hope, will always remember Uncle Ray, the man who established the system that let business computer users talk to each other and share their output. Let collaboration be his legacy.

How sad - a big loss to the industry.
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