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Novell boss aims high for NDS, downplays Active Directory

A mere tactic, he sniffs, and salivates over telecoms revenues

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Novell is currently locked in a messy custard-pie fight with Microsoft over the relative capabilities of Win2k and NetWare/NDS, but yesterday CEO Eric Schmidt delivered a clear signal that Novell intends to move the competition sideways, preferably over the body of Active Directory. Novell has been pitching Novell Directory Services as the real product for some time now, but speaking in an interview with CNBC at the Davos World Economic Forum yesterday Schmidt firmed that up considerably, describing Active Directory as merely a "tactic" for Microsoft, while NDS is for Novell a "broad strategy" that will result in a cross-platform, scalable e-directory that is the foundation of e-commerce systems. This is effectively a variation and extension on a theme. NetWare business remains valuable to Novell, but is increasingly less so, as services and directory-based revenues grow. Microsoft's competitor is hampered by being locked into Microsoft-based networks, and via this by Microsoft's failure so far to make a convincing dent in high end networking. Barring a change in trends, the likes of Sun and IBM are likely to continue to do better than Microsoft when it comes to putting businesses online, and this is where Novell's cross-platform directory bet comes in. Schmidt's ambitions here seem to be virtually limitless. When The Register heard him speak at Citrix iForum last year we noted that he seemed remarkably well tuned into European wireless developments, and their significance for directories, and hence Novell. In yesterday's interview he went further down this road, suggesting that Europe would be embracing e-commerce while at the same time adding in a telecoms revolution. "It's going from being an American phenomenon to being a European and world phenomenon," he said. Could he mean Europe is poised to move into the lead? ®

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