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Novell challenges Sun for slice of AOL's appliance business

Despite the AOL-Sun alliance, Novell thinks it can still sell AOL key technologies

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AOL's 'AOL Anywhere' strategy (See Story) could be launched with the aid of Novell software, despite the fact that in this area Novell is competing directly with AOL's new strategic partner, Sun. In the wake of its Netscape takeover AOL has started talking about an ambitious strategy that will take it out beyond the PC-Internet and onto devices and appliances. Java will be a key component of this, but so will Sun's Sun.Net - or Novell's NDS. Both of these are intended to support 'anywhere to anywhere' network logins. Ultimately this means that a user could log onto any device, anywhere (for example, pick up a phone or switch on a hotel TV), and be recognised, and have access to all of their data and applications. AOL clearly needs technology that will support this, and Sun's WebTop approach, where users have a 'personal WebTop' that follows them around the world, would now seem the logical way to go. But sources close to Novell claim that the company has been in negotiation with AOL for some time, and that despite the latest deal, Novell remains confident of victory. According to the sources, Novell's major advantage is that it already has mature directory services technology deployed, and can build on that. Sun, on the other hand, is making Sun.Net up as it goes along, says Novell. Sun.Net is due for launch early next year, but could well suffer from 'version 1.0' syndrome. One sign that Sun doesn't quite have its act together on Sun.Net was its purchase of i-Planet in October. The company is a remote access specialist, and was acquired so that its RemotePassage product which provides secure access across the Web, can be incorporated in Sun.Net. ®

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