Novell frees clients with NetWare 6

Net services strategy

Novell today launched NetWare 6, its platform for the development of net services, which for the first time comes without the need to install client software.

NetWare 6 is being positioned as an easy means to enable networks, composed of Windows, Unix or Mac clients, to access services such as file and print or storage over the Internet without employing a "rip and replace" strategy at the client end. It also includes features that provide better support for clustering, improved storage management and adds support for multi-processor servers.

The latest version of NetWare is a key component of Novell's One Net strategy for providing software and services that securely extends availability to LAN resources onto the Internet or wireless networks.

Techies know and love NetWare as a secure and reliable network operating system. And there remains a huge installed base of Netware servers. But success for Novell is not exactly a foregone conclusion.

Server consolidation, and the inroads made by Microsoft into Novell's traditional network operating system market, means fewer new sales of NetWare servers. This has led to an increased emphasis on services and a change to a per-user (instead of per-server) pricing model for NetWare 6.

The acquisition by Novell earlier this year of Cambridge Technology Partners - and how well its consultants can sell One Net solutions on the back of NetWare 6 - is key to Novell's future, and how fast it can return to operating profit.

At a NetWare 6 launch in London Odeon Leicester Square today, Novell showed off features of NetWare 6 that will be particularly attractive in making life easier to set up mobile and branch office workers. Chief among these were iFolder, which allows secure access and storage of files on the Internet and iPrint, which allows users with a Web browser to easily install a printer.

These features impressed the end users present as useful (especially in branch offices) and we got the impression that Novell's has delivered on some solid - if modest - Internet-orientated functionality.

Its wireless strategy remains sketchy and although it enjoyed the vocal support of key server vendors Compaq and IBM at the launch, handheld and mobiles barely merited a mention. Microsoft is clearly ahead of it in the mobile space, if clearly behind on delivery and functionality, even with the imminent release of Win XP.

Novell has made some serious strategic missteps - it was slow to give away NetWare Directory Services (NDS); and it was a huge pain to migrate from NetWare 3.x to 4.x. But we reckon that it has - after today - got a credible story for the Net services market.

NetWare 6 will be available from resellers from mid-October and will be licensed on a user-based pricing of $184 per user (which corresponds to one eDirectory user). ®

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