Cabletron inks directory deal

Cabletron Systems is finalising negotiations to license directories from Novell and Netscape Communications in an effort to help users cut costs and simplify administration of complex networks, Computerworld has learnt.

The Rochester, New Hampshire, networking vendor is expected to demonstrate integration of Novell Directory Services and its equipment at Novell's forthcoming annual Brainshare conference, according to industry sources.

Users stand to gain from the marriage of directories and networks, which would automate the long and arduous manual process of separately configuring, reconfiguring and maintaining sprawling networks comprised of myriad LAN devices.

"It will take fewer network administrators to accomplish more management activities in a lot less time," said Laura DiDio, an analyst at Giga Information Group. "And all this will result in cost reductions for IT departments."

Cabletron's directory strategy has kept one of its large users from leaving the supplier and moving to Cisco Systems.

"It played a very large role in our decision to stay, because we're looking at leveraging directory technology to gain more control over administration and spend less time with equipment," said Stuart Franklin, information technology manager at Covington & Burlin, a Washington law firm. He said he believes his project can be done sooner because Cabletron will deliver before Cisco. Franklin oversees a worldwide network with more than 1000 users and considers it a must that NDS be able to control networking hardware.

An NDS/Cabletron combination would let the five-person support staff at Atlanta Gas Light Resources provide a higher level of service for its 56-site, 3000-user data network.

"This would enable us to integrate the support and management of our entire network from applications all the way down to networking hardware, which would speed our responsiveness in fixing and maintaining the network," said Mark Edwards, senior data communications analyst at the Atlanta-based utility holding company. "It would also help us maintain application [performance]."

Cabletron also stands to gain. Cisco has cast its lot with Microsoft by licensing Microsoft's Active Directory, which isn't due until next year, leaving open the window of opportunity for smaller rivals such as Cabletron.

Officials at Novell, Netscape and Cabletron declined comment.

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