Theres still some life left in NetWare. First of all, NetWare 5.1 is not going to go away, at least in the near term. Jim Tanner, director of platform product management at Novell, expects the current product to be viable for "workforce deployments" until at least mid-2002. You can expect to see several enhancement packs for NetWare 5.1, as new features are added (primarily as NLMs). Expect similar levels of product activity and longevity with the NetWare Small Business Suite.
Most of the NetWare activity is in the "mission-critical" space with the arrival of NetWare 6, due out sometime in Q3 of this year. The product will sport several tweaks that make it even more resilient and fault tolerant. These improvements are aimed at large, 24 x 7 enterprise installations where NetWare has enjoyed a happy home for a long time.
First up, NetWare finally becomes completely multi-processor-enabled. Novell claims that everything—from protocol stacks to storage services, directory services to security services—has been architected to run in SMP mode. Additionally, clustering (first introduced as an option in the 5.1 release) will be included for two nodes in every box as a standard feature, with the ability to scale to 32 nodes.
Attention also has been given to storage. Novell Storage Services (NSS) can "shred" deleted files to the satisfaction of the U.S. governments Green Book standard, as well as compress files that are used infrequently. It retains its 8TB file system size limit per volume and will have the ability to host the SYS volume of a server in an NSS object store. Taking a cue from RAID vendors over the years, volume pooling also will become available. Volume pooling is the process by which hard-disk capacity is added to a storage "pool." Logical NetWare volumes can then be allocated (and de-allocated) out of the pool of physical storage, all while the other volumes are still up and operational.
If the storage has been beefed up, so has the access to the storage. For the first time, one wont need a NetWare client to access the file system running on a NetWare 6 server. While some sort of authentication and access control scheme will exist via NetWare Modular Authentication Services, the next version will be ready for CIFS, NFS, AFP, WebDAV/http and, of course, the traditional NCP methods of access. Just exactly how Novell plans to license access to all of these clients on a server will be "forthcoming," according to a company spokesman.