Novell Sets Sights on ASPs

Provo, Utah-based Novell Inc. bolstered its move toward the ASP (application service provider) market on Tuesday with the release of Novell OnDemand Services, software that lets companies host content or services and charge for access.

OnDemand will form the cornerstone of Novell's future ASP services. To provide a hosting solution, Novell can combine the package with Novell's caching technology as well as with iChain security and e-business services and a front-end piece such as Novell's planned NDS Web portal, code-named Blackhawk, Novell executives said.

According to Monty Sharma, vice president of service provider networks at Novell, the company will be emphasizing both OnDemand and directory services as critical pieces for service providers. The directory can be used as a single management point for tying big software pieces, such as billing and customer support, into the ASP environment, as well as linking internal and external networks.

Sharma said that Novell's "one Net [strategy] is ASP targeted" and can provide a centralized solution to enable companies to manage their hosted applications.

Novell sees OnDemand as a core piece of that solution, said Troy Martin, a product manager for Novell OnDemand Services. Using OnDemand, a company can grant and revoke rights to an object stored in the directory for a fee. A user is authenticated through eDirectory, which is included in the browser-based OnDemand. Based on an access profile, a user is presented with a selection of services and content to purchase. Back-end billing, reporting, and merchant services connect via the DirCommerce engine, which also tracks usage figures for reports.

"We call this file-and-print on steroids," said Mike Brown, product manager with Novell's OnDemand Services. "This is a logical extension of what directories have done in the past" in storing access profiles.

Brown said OnDemand is targeted at ASPs and ISPs with hosted services as well as enterprises who may want to host services that employees could access when needed, with costs billed to their department. The service potentially could be expanded to peer-to-peer networks as well, because its user-access management and profile capabilities could be combined with a digital rights management layer and content tagged for access by specific profiles, to ensure that copyrights were not being violated.

The release of OnDemand marks the first venture into a consumption or subscription-based pricing model for Novell, Brown said. Customers will be charged based on the number of users subscribing to the service times a monthly fee; currently, pricing is $1.10 per user per month. A second OnDemand release, OnDemand 1.5, will emerge within the next few months, with the addition of more partner technologies atop the OnDemand foundation and further access enhancements, including more identity capabilities.

"You will see pieces of OnDemand that look suspiciously like [Novell's identity-management technology] digitalme," Martin said. "It's not that we're trying to package pieces from days gone by, but there's solid technology in some of those offerings and they do make sense for this solution as we go forward."

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