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Novell embraces open source

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Novell has made its strongest commitment to date to open source technologies in announcements made at its BrainShare user conference this week.

NetWare 6.5, the latest version of Novell's flagship operating system, will include the MySQL database and Apache Web server, allowing applications designed for these components to run on NetWare. Perl, PHP and Tomcat have also been added to NetWare 6.5, which the company promises will be released in "late May or early June".

The inclusion of Novell exteNd Application Server, the fruits of Novell's acquisition of SilverStream Software last year, will allow users to run J2EE applications on NetWare. Other enhancement to NetWare 6.5 are designed to make server consolidation more straightforward.

Version 7.0 of NetWare, due at the end of next year, will be built to run on either NetWare or Linux kernels.

GroupWise, Novell's messaging and collaboration suite, will be enhanced to support Apple Mac and Linux clients and made available "later this year".

As part of a bid to woo open source developers, Novell launched a developer Web site and announced the launch of a Linux certification programme for engineers with expertise in both Novell's technologies and Linux.

Novell CTO Alan Nugent told us that commitment to open source technologies had emerged in recent times. This commitment came as the company has gradually discarded its proprietary NetWare heritage and embraced open standards and now open source technologies.

"We want Novell to become a participant in open source community," Nugent said.

Perceived lack of support has been a factor in holding up Linux adoption in the enterprise. Novell is keen to provide training and support to fill up this stop-gap, while leveraging the appeal of open source technology to boost sales of its various Web services technologies.

You'd be forgiven for thinking this sounds a lot like what IBM did three or four years ago. But Nugent reckons that Novell's business model for open source developers is more akin to that of Oracle.

Novell clearly wants to embrace open source technologies so the big question is: do open source developers want to embrace Novell?

No, we don't have the answer. On the one hand a commitment to open source is a logical extension to Novell's One NET Web services strategy, which has been gaining traction in markets like local government and the airline industry. Also Novell has improved its formally dire marketing.

Against this we have to remember Novell, unlike Microsoft, has been dreadful at bringing developers on board. Remember how NetWare 5.0 was going to make Novell a Java application vendor?

Nothing much happened of that. Further evidence against Novell is its capitulation in the face of an assault by Microsoft on its core NetWare market.

But that's historY: Novell is now taking positive steps to execute on its Web services strategy, and to fulfil its open source commitment.

At BrainShare, Novell announced it is releasing the source code for its Novell Nsure UDDI Server to the open source community. This technology designed to make Web services registries more secure and easier to manage by adding identity management capabilities to the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) standard. UDDI can be thought of as a Yellow Pages (business directory) for the Web.

Staying on the security theme, Novell this week lifted the kimono on an early release of Liberty identity provider for Novell eDirectory, which offers single sign-on to Liberty-enabled Web sites. The company also detailed new Secure Assertions Markup Language (SAML) extension for Novell iChain, designed to allow businesses to securely share authentication and user attribute information with partners and suppliers across the Web.

Novell ZENworks, the Utah firm's resource management software for servers, desktops and handhelds, has been combined in a single suite in a package that includes Novell iFolder for data management and Desktop DNA from Miramar Systems for personality migration. Novell Resource Management and Novell ZENworks, which feature these enhancements, were released earlier this week. ®

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