When someone travels all the way from Sydney, Australia to attend the Open Horizons EMEA Summit then you have to get their feedback after the event. Here's our interview with Claudio Antonioli whose company Systemcraft Pty is a long-standing Novell partner.
Claudio - introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your company?
My company has been a Novell partner for over 20 years and we employ engineers with training and certifications across all the business units, as they were known under the Attachmate days. Like many others I met at Open Horizons, I also did my Novell CNE certification many years ago and we are very active with quite a range of solutions in the small to medium enterprise sector.
Sadly, we have seen customers move away from some of these solutions, but with recent develops such as FILR, we have had opportunities to work with non traditional Novell customers. I believe that changing demographics will lead to more opportunities, as long as the solutions are suitable and well understood.
I understand that you had travelled to Europe for family reasons and decided to join the OH Summit? What influenced your decision and what pre-conceptions did you have of it beforehand?
I had head of the Summit through other European partners I met at past BrainShare events in the US, so I was always interested. Certainly having relatives in Europe gave me an additional incentive to visit family and to come to the Summit, which far exceeded my expectations. I have always thoroughly enjoyed the BrainShare events and was expecting something similar, but not really sure. I found the OH Summit to be a more "intimate" event, if that is the right word, as it is smaller and the opportunity to mix with so many interesting people who are passionate about these solutions was very rewarding and gave me a lot of hope for the future.
What were your thoughts after attending the Roundtable events? Reassured that development is moving ahead; not fast enough or do you have concerns?
I found the Roundtable events to be very reassuring, not only as Novell made available the right people to present and discuss road-maps, but also because the level of development activity exceeded my expectations. This is very heartening. I am sure everyone always has concerns in general, in that their wish lists don't always turn in to actual deliverables. This must be a constant issue for software developers. However, I felt that there was a shift in that Micro Focus seems to want to listen to the partner community more than what I saw under Attachmate. I hope this proves to be the case, as there have been a lot of lost opportunities resulting from not listening!
Stephen Murdoch the COO of Micro Focus presented the keynote at the Summit dinner. What's your reaction to what he had to say about the 'merger' and future of the Novell business?
It was excellent. I had never heard of him and was expecting the usual glossy presentation I have seen in the past from senior execs within Novell and Attachmate. But Stephen made it clear what the focus was and I felt it aligned really well with what we heard on the Sunday in the Roundtable events.
Hot-labs - the core of the Summit. Give us your honest appraisal of the concept and execution at this year's Summit?
Again, BrainShare was the benchmark I had in mind and have always enjoyed. The smaller classes, but longer in duration, made learning more enjoyable. I did get a lot out of all my sessions. Honestly though, I would have been happy for an extra day to do more sessions! When I saw the agenda, I wished I could do every single session!
A great opportunity to network and talk with like minded people. True or false?
Without a doubt. I met so many wonderful people and really enjoyed our discussions. Often as Novell partners, we feel we're on our own so to speak, but mixing with others and sharing our experiences, concerns and plans, made me confident that there is a good future.
What's your highlight(s) of the event?
The social events were excellent. No, I didn't go on the run (I prefer to swim for my exercise, but don't think swimming the Danube should be introduced as an alternative!!), but all the events were really well run, excellent food and great company. It was good to mix with the third party vendors too, who I felt were just as much part of the partner community. Well done to the organisers!
If you were recommending the event to colleagues and customers - what would you say are the benefits of attending the Summit?
All the above and more! The combination of a great Summit with really good presenters and attendees, excellent accommodation and a spectacular city made the whole event quite memorable. It's always difficult to put your finger on an actual benefit, but certainly the training has been very helpful, as has been the clarity of the roadmap, which has allowed me to discuss and plan with more confidence. The contacts I have made have been incredibly helpful too.
Looking back - what memories come to mind when thinking of Budapest 2015?
I had particular fun on the Quiz night. That was very enjoyable indeed. Also, I always looked forward to the great food. This makes events like this really stand out. I had never been to Budapest and thought it was fantastic. I would love to visit again, and of course, I met a lot of interesting and helpful attendees and presenters.
What things that you learnt have you been able to put into practice in your business?
In regards to business strategy and customer interaction, the product road-maps have been invaluable and has made us more focussed on these solutions for as many customers as possible. In other words, it's given us more energy to pursue business relating to these solutions. In regards to technical skills, this is forever an on-going process and the new skills and knowledge I obtained at the Summit sped up that process for me.
Thank you Claudio for taking time out to answer our questions. We hope to meet you again next year!
This article was first published in OHM29, p14-15, June 2015