Novell has alerted customers and partners that it is cancelling its annual BrainShare conference, which was to have been held in Salt Lake City in March.

Novell has held the event annually for more than 20 years, according to John Dragoon, the company's senior vice president and chief marketing officer, whose letter to customers and partners we've included below.

Dragoon wrote that "many of you have indicated that because of the current economic climate, you are under increasing pressure to reduce travel and other controllable expenses and are hesitant to commit to attending our BrainShare 2009 conference."

He pledged that Novell will seek other means to provide continued education and support to customers and partners.

The tough economy hasn't helped Novell's financial numbers of late either. The company continues to lose money, reporting earlier this month a $16 million loss  (approx £11 million) for its fourth fiscal quarter on roughly flat revenue.

For the fiscal year, ended 31 October, Novell lost about $18 million on revenue of just under $1 billion. Making apples-to-apples comparisons of Novell financial results quarter to quarter has become next to impossible given a variety of "impairment charges" and other clarifications included in its reports.

Novell's most recent product news has included the shipment of its GroupWise 8 messaging and calendaring platform and a game plan for getting Red Hat Linux customers to give Novell's SuSE Linux a whirl.

It's already been a tough week for trade shows. Apple announced yesterday that this January's Macworld would be its last and that Steve Jobs would not be delivering a keynote speech there.