Novell Faithful Embrace Company's One Net Plan

FRAMINGHAM (04/03/2000) - Novell Inc.'s latest attempt to redefine its overarching vision - a directory-centric, multiplatform blueprint called One Net - received generally positive reviews last week from those attending the company's annual user conference.

"Novell is busy building out our One Net vision, a world in which all types of networks - intranets, extranets, corporate, public, wired to wireless - work together as one net to simplify the complexities of e-business," Novell's CEO Eric Schmidt said in his keynote address.

The vision surprisingly de-emphasizes the strategic importance of NetWare, the network operating system upon which Novell once built a dominant position in the network industry. One Net continues Novell's evolution into a provider of network services and products that bridge the gap between corporate networks and the Internet. Whether the strategy will succeed depends on Novell's ability to deliver and market these directory-enabled products and services successfully in a period of ever more intense competition and continued shake-ups in the company's upper management ranks.

Fresh from 10 consecutive profitable quarters, Novell is eager to join disparate networks with a manageable, secure framework that exists irrespective of firewalls, operating systems, hardware, device type or geography. Central to the One Net blueprint is another new Novell initiative, dubbed Directory Enabled Net Infrastructure Model - DENIM. The company says it will only introduce products and services that do not differentiate between the Internet and corporate networks.

Novell customers say they are ready to adapt to the changes.

"Clearly we have to develop understandings of new technologies such as [public-key infrastructure] and XML," says Bob Young, systems administration manager for WFS Financial in Irvine, Calif. "This new strategy will force administrators to step up to the plate. It's forcing the NetWare administrator to be a Web guy."

One analyst says the shift in direction makes sense for Novell.

"The business they are in now is net services - anything on the Internet, intranet or corporate network," says Steve Dube, an equity analyst with Wasserstein Parrella in New York.

He says although Novell's marketing is a work in progress, each directory, security or network application Novell produces is capable of generating "more than $100 million or so in incremental revenue."

Critical partners

Novell's partners will play a critical role in determining the company's fortunes going forward, says another customer.

"Novell is starting to open everything up," says Jeff Johnson, lead systems software engineer at Georgia State University in Atlanta. "The company started with native support for IP, and now they are opening up the directory. Novell's success comes down to vendor support, and if it can convince other vendors to develop directory-enabled products, that will help execute its strategy."

To drive home the directory-centric message, Novell showed off a series of multivendor products for e-commerce, as well the first beta version of its DirXML, a technology for creating a metadirectory that synchronizes and manages user data from numerous directories.

Scheduled to ship this summer with the next version of eDirectory, the product consists of an XML-based rules engine and an Extensible Stylesheet Language processor that lets users create and execute rules that dictate how directory data is synchronized. Novell's eDirectory is the hub directory, and the engine lets connected directories publish their changes into the hub and subscribe to changes made in eDirectory.

As part of its strategy to make the directory the underpinning of every commercial transaction, the company will also offer five DirXML connectors for linking the rules engine to Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange and Active Directory, Netscape/Lightweight Directory Access Protocol and Novell Directory Services. DirXML also will ship tools for mapping directory schema and for building custom connectors.

The company also announced it will port its GroupWise messaging platform and its Novell Internet Message System to Linux and Solaris, and support wireless access to mail, calendar and workflow for GroupWise.

The company is using the GroupWise WebAccess client as the interface for wireless devices, the first of which will be AT&T's PocketNet phones.

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