Company improves administration and Web services interoperability in Version 6.5 of its operating system.
Network software pioneer Novell Inc. is dusting off its operating system and readying a version that highlights improved management and administration capabilities, as well as features targeted at the developer community.
The Provo, Utah, company is readying NetWare 6.5 for a midyear ship, Rob Seely, NetWares product line manager, told eWeek earlier this month. With Version 6.5, Novell hopes to expand its traditional user base from the network administrator to the IT developer.
"We hope the Web services pieces and open-source technologies found in the product will appeal to developers," Seely said.
That plan may not pan out, however, according to some IT shops.
In most enterprises, the developer has "about as much to do with strategic decisions like platform consolidation and standards as network administrators dowhich is to say, virtually none," said John Kretz, president of Enlightened Point Consulting Group LLC, in Phoenix, which runs NetWare 6, Windows 2000 and Red Hat Inc. systems.
Novell has courted developers in the past, Kretz said, with "vaporware releases intent upon allowing easy software development on the NetWare platform, but that amounted to naught. I think Novell has probably lost the developer market."
John Graves, chief administrative officer for the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, disagreed, saying the combination of improved integration and better tools could attract more developers. That said, hes still not interested in upgrading.
"We use Windows to host our accounting application database, to host our Citrix servers and to host our call accounting software," said Graves, who runs NetWare 6.0 as a file-and-print server and as a GroupWise server. "NetWare 6.0 and Windows 2000 work just fine, so I see no need to switch, no matter whats in NetWare 6.5."
In the new version, Novell has expanded on some of the technology in NetWare 6 and created a solution called Virtual Office. The feature is designed to extend LAN networking to the Internet by letting workers log in from any Internet-ready PC to access e-mail, network files and applications. "Virtual Office will help put a face on the network that people can understand," Seely said.
Virtual Office will include technology called Virtual Teams to let groups collaborate and share documents. iFolder lets data be saved in a folder, online or offline, and be stored on the local hard drive and a network server.
For the network administrator, Novell has added tools to better manage storage devices and to cut bandwidth costs for remote offices.
With server consolidation and the need for backup and disaster recovery high on customer radar screens, Novell has developed a tool set that allows files, directories and information to be dragged and dropped from the old system to the new one, Seely said.
"Rather than cut and paste, its now copy and paste. This visual application allows data and files to be consolidated onto fewer storage devices, particularly onto storage area networks, and can also be used to establish backup versions of corporate data in case of disaster," Seely said.
The tool set will also work with all versions of NetWare, Windows NT and from tree to tree, he added.
NetWare 6.5 also includes Java and Web services software from SilverStream Software Inc., the application server company Novell acquired last year, which should allow developers and administrators to better integrate NetWare with other systems and applications.
Despite the new technology, Novell will have its work cut out for it, some said.
"Customers now buy fewer big machines and use them for larger workloads. NetWare is a very powerful technology, but the challenge ... is a marketing and sales one," said Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst for International Data Corp., in Orlando, Fla. "IT decision makers who authorize software buying often dont know about the product and its strengths. Novell does not do a good job of getting that message out to the people who count."
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.
He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.
He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.
He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.
He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.
He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.
His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.
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