Novell to give away its directory

In an effort to kick-start the building of applications that leverage directory technology, Novell Inc. here at the NetWorld+Interop conference announced plans to offer its eDirectory free to developers, equipment manufacturers, and independent software vendors.

Officials at the Provo, Utah-based company said the move was intended to eradicate the barriers that keep developers from adopting the directory: price and licensing model.

The dramatic pricing shift reflects a larger change of strategy for Novell, moving from a focus on directory seats and market share to eyeing the potential revenue stream from applications that ride on top of the directory, according to Ben Anderson, vice president of product management for Net directory services at Novell.

"We are [trying to] instill an energy into the market. We will not charge for the directory, but will generate revenue from the services running on top of it," he said.

Because it holds the key to unlocking user identity, preferences, and policy data, the directory has emerged as an important component of Internet services and e-business applications, Novell officials said.

"There is a whole host of applications that need to know user data. A lot of programmers want to know about users without having to reinvent the wheel each time," Anderson said. "The applications are better off having access to the user information."

According to Michael Hoch, senior analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc., in Boston, Novell is hoping the move will give its eDirectory a wider play among application developers.

"Novell is trying to preempt [Microsoft's] Active Directory adoption by letting developers and manufacturers play with [eDirectory] as much as they want," Hoch said.

In order to buy and adopt directory technology, enterprises need a specific purpose in mind, Hoch said.

"Few companies buy directories for the sake of having a directory. You buy a commerce platform, and along with it you get a directory. This is showing that Novell recognizes they can get in the door more easily if they come in with an application. It looks like a smart move," he said.

Novell also rolled out a Web-based directory portal called the LDAPzone. The free service is designed to offer developers a central repository for educational materials, software, and other directory-related information. The community portal features XML tools, sample directory code, programming resources, and LDAP tools, according to Novell officials.

"It is a one-two punch for people who want to work with the eDirectory. We are giving them access to the directory and the tools they need develop business applications," Anderson said.

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