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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Novell Inc has re-emphasized its support for XML-based standards in a belated attempt to steal a slice of the emerging web services market from Microsoft Corp, Sun Microsystems Inc and IBM, and revive its moribund fortunes.

Provo, Utah-based Novell also extended an alliance with BEA Systems Inc, forged with Cambridge Technology Partners, to build systems based on the company's products. Novell made the announcements on the opening day of its Brainshare 2002 conference yesterday.

Vice chairman of the office of the CEO Chris Stone said the strategy would help Novell grab a significant share of the emerging web services market. "Novell Net Services are a basic form of web service. Our challenge and our opportunity is to put the pieces together and dominate pieces of this market place," Stone said. Novell is well positioned to elbow-aside Microsoft, Sun and IBM he said.

Stone is clearly focusing on the long-term, though, as Novell's short-term prospects look bleak. The company is reported to have cut its capital expenditure estimate by roughly $40 million from $50m for fiscal 2002. Novell said its expenditure estimate could be further reduced if growth continued to be less than expected.

The focus on web services is Novell's second strategy overhaul in two years.

Novell used Brainshare 2000 to announce One Net - for universal access to the internet and software services from any platform or location - and Denim - its technology roadmap to underpin One Net and to which all products would adhere.

Senior vice president of product management Dave Shirk used that event to call Denim an endorsement of XML and Enterprise Java Beans, which would be wrapped into all products - moving away from programming in C. Former chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt said at the time: "There will be more users of Denim than of Windows."

Yesterday's endorsement of XML and web services, though, leaves Novell trailing most major vendors - especially those singled out as rivals by Stone. Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, Palo Alto, California-based Sun and IBM are already well advanced in their plans to support XML and web services in products.

Novell plans to infuse support for Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Web Services Description Language (WSDL) and Web Services Development Kit (WSDK) into products, while Stone said Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) will help uptake of eDirectory. Novell also plans to cut some of its 163 products.

The alliance with San Jose, California-based BEA will see offerings delivered that are based on the companies' products. The companies did not provide details, but said the first fruits of this deal would come with secure access to BEA's WebLogic Platform, promised under the Novell Secure Partner Portal announced in November 2001.

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