The interoperability that currently exists between Novell's Novell Directory Services (NDS) and Microsoft's Windows NT domain architecture will carry over to be available for Windows 2000 when that operating system ships, Eric Schmidt, Novell's chairman and chief executive officer, said yesterday.
"Our directory (NDS) will cross-populate with (Windows 2000's) Active Directory and vice-versa. That's good for them, good for us and good for customers," Schmidt said, speaking on a panel with two Gartner Group analysts at Gartner's ITxpo '99 here.
Although the mechanics of how the two directories will synchronise will vary from Windows NT 4.0 to Windows 2000, "from the customer perspective, the functionality is the same", Schmidt said, adding that this functionality is already present in the latest beta version of Windows 2000.
Schmidt also said that Novell plans to introduce a new product line that integrates public-key infrastructure technology, network management functionality and tools for generating end-user certificates.
"Over the next three to six months ... we will ship products that unify that triangle," he said. "We will announce that as a product line and as a product strategy and give it a brand."
XML (Extensible Mark-up Language) will also be part of this strategy. The technology makes it possible to "stitch" together various applications and provide a single sign-on, allowing users to enter a single password and gain access to multiple applications, Schmidt said.
"This is the sweet spot today for directory-based enterprise applications," he said.
Schmidt dismissed the analysts' suggestions that many companies using Windows NT today will choose Windows 2000 when it ships over Novell's Netware, based on Microsoft's mindshare and not so much on technology.
Microsoft has "an extraordinarily impressive marketing machine" that Novell will never equal, but users do care about making the correct technology choices, for the good of their companies and of their careers, Schmidt said.
"It actually matters that our stuff stays up," scales and interoperates, he said.
For example, he said, Novell plans to ship next month "an integrated NDS offering with support for Solaris, NT and Netware," because Novell recognises that to reach its goal of dominating the enterprise market for directory services, NDS needs to work across operating system platforms.
Similarly, Novell is committed to ensuring that its applications will work with multiple directories, not just NDS, he said.
Novell also sees a big opportunity in the emerging e-commerce market because its technology is needed for electronic transactions to be conducted successfully over the internet.
"There is a very strong need for integrated directory-based networks" in the internet and e-commerce space, he said.
In this area, Novell recently launched a Web site called digitalme, the goal of which is to let users create a profile of themselves for e-commerce and control the type of personal information that they make available to Web sites they buy from, he said.
The Gartner analysts who participated in the panel were Neil MacDonald and Audrey Apfel, both of whom hold the title of vice president and research director.
Gartner ITxpo ends Friday.