Novell upgrades Web tools, ID management

Novell Inc. has announced a major revision of its Web application development software that adds support for Linux and dovetails with an upgrade of the company's identity management software that was unveiled last week.

The Extend 5 release, announced at LinuxWorld, also includes drag-and-drop visual development tools for creating Web services, said Frank Auger, vice president of product management at Novell. In addition, the software will support more development standards, including the Portlet 1.0 specification, the World Wide Web Consortium's Xforms, and the Web Services Interoperability Organization's Basic Profile rules, Auger said.

The Extend upgrade follows Novell's announcement of Nsure Identity Manager 2, previously called DirXML, which combines metadirectory, provisioning and password management capabilities. The upgrade adds features such as a browser-based tool for configuring rules and policies and the ability to track, monitor and report on security-related network activity.

The two products are sold separately, but Auger said they have a unified purpose of bringing together network managers and application developers. "We're looking to provide a full set of capabilities that enterprises need to rapidly build applications that take advantage of Web services and to tie them into the identification infrastructure," he said.

Extend 5 beta-tester Michael Weaver, a management and information specialist at the University of Georgia in Athens, said Novell's embrace of Portlet 1.0 means the school's developers won't need to write nearly as much custom code to integrate Web-based software into a campuswide portal with 40,000 end users. "When we want to integrate a new service on the portal, such as an online course registration tool, it will maybe take half as much time," Weaver said.

In the past, Novell has "had some wild times," he noted. But the release of Extend 5 and a string of other products that support Linux in recent months "seems to show they had their head screwed on straight," said Weaver, who added that he was speaking for himself and not on behalf of the university.

Another beta-tester, David Daniels, a technology architect at IMCO Recycling Inc., an aluminum and zinc recycling company in Irving, Texas, also said the portlet capabilities will save him time in developing Web services. "Novell is doing a lot better now with this announcement and its whole support for Linux," Daniels said.

IDC analyst Sandra Rogers said the dual rollouts show that Novell recognizes the fact that IT staffers building Web services applications are "trying to take care of developing for a secure environment."

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