Novell is readying the next version of NetWare to challenge Microsoft's .Net Server by making its flagship operating system more resilient and Web services-enabled when deployed in large distributed networks.
Code-named Nakoma, the upgrade is expected to ship in the first half of next year.
Among the anticipated features are:
- Support for iSCSI, software-based RAID 1 and 5, snapshot backup, storage resource management and data-pooling, which will make network storage more flexible, manageable and fault-tolerant.
- Inclusion of the Novell Extend application server platform, a Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition-compliant (J2EE) server the company acquired when it bought SilverStream Software in June.
- An integrated Web portal that combines what Novell says are the best features of SilverStream's portal and Novell Portal Services.
- Integrated DirXML connectivity to Windows NT domains and Active Directory, as well as eDirectory, which lets NetWare LANs be joined with Windows networks.
- Support for blade servers and their management.
Nakoma, now in beta testing, has several features the company says will make it an able competitor against .Net Server.
"We are going to make some explicit moves to help people make an explicit comparison between Nakoma and Microsoft's .Net Server," says Ed Anderson, product marketing director for Novell.
One area where Novell says it can pull ahead of Microsoft is with its application development tools.
"As our positioning against .Net, we want to offer SilverStream (Software Inc.)'s Web services tools and application environment," Anderson says. "The whole industry is focusing on J2EE except for Microsoft, who is focused on the [Common Language Runtime] initiative."
The CLR environment is Microsoft's foundation for developing Web services applications. While proprietary, it is similar in features and functionality to the Java Virtual Machine; CLR applications are developed using Microsoft's C# and other programming languages.
Users are interested in the application development environment and see it as a way for Novell to regain market share.
"[Novell] Extend will hopefully provide a standardized platform on which to build real Web services on top of NetWare," says Jim Michael, IS manager for the city of Chesterfield, Mo. "NetWare runs Java great, thus Extend appears to be a perfect fit." Michael has 10 NetWare 6 servers, most of which run Novell's BorderManager, GroupWise, Apache/Tomcat Web servers and back-up applications.
IT managers also are excited about the new storage capabilities of Nakoma. One technology, snapshot backup, lets images of the data on the network be taken at any point in time, allowing fast recovery and shrinking the time necessary for backing up the network.
"Point-in-time copies help eliminate the ever-present headaches associated with 'open file' backup solutions," Michael says. "The Novell Storage System volumes have been around since NetWare 5, yet backup vendors are only just starting to support open file backups on their volumes - [the products that are available] are still immature and unstable." he says.