Novell charges on with caching

Novell will inch its Trojan horse directory strategy one step closer to the walls of Microsoft this week with new Internet service provider alliances and the release of Version 1.1 of its Internet Caching System (ICS), as well as next month's intended release of digitalme into the open-source realm.

Novell's basic strategy to compete with Microsoft is to get as many ISP and server vendors as possible to agree to bundle Novell software with their offerings. Following that strategy, two additional ISPs, Akamai Technologies and Edgix, will expand ICS' reach by using Novell's caching software. Meanwhile, placing digitalme online identity technology into open source might create more interest in the underlying Novell Directory Services (NDS)-based technology among portals and ISPs.

According to Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO of Novell, digitalme is expected to be released into open source next month, keeping in line with a plan for open availability of digitalme source code and APIs that was outlined by Novell on October 5.

"If Novell's goal is to have digitalme be widely available and widely used, they need to encourage the application development environment. One obvious way to do that is by making digitalme open-source," said Virginia Brooks, an analyst and group vice president of networking and telecommunications at the Aberdeen Group, in Boston.

But another analyst saw flaws in the plan.

"Just because it's put on the network doesn't mean the open-source community will pick it up. If you put it out there and there's no interest, it will just sit there," said Dan Kusnetzky, program director for operating environments and servers at International Data Corp., in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Kusnetzky said he believes that Novell needs to make digitalme attractive to business people.

Novell is moving its caching strategy forward with the inclusion of Akamai's FreeFlow program and Edgix's content-distribution technology in ICS Version 1.1. The 1.1 release adds support for forward and reverse caching of large FTP files, reporting tools, and new security features, such as address-based access control for administrators.

ICS Version 1.1 is a precursor to a major 2.0 release, due out next spring. ICS 2.0 will include an API to ICS, which comes bundled with a dormant copy of NDS. When 2.0 is released, all sites that upgrade will automatically have the directory enabled on their sites, said Michael Jackson, product marketing manager at Novell.

Novell's fight to establish its product in this space should be fierce -- right now, the leading caching software used by most ISPs comes from Inktomi.

However, Jackson contends that, as demand for real-time computing and zero-latency applications increases beyond the ISP space, Novell will have the opportunity to deliver a tool that is faster and less complex than Inktomi's product.

Novell's ICS 1.1 will be released today.

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