Novell CEO Eric Schmidt this week will attempt to take the network software industry's centre stage - with a large product splash of his own - a week before Microsoft officials do the same with the launch of Windows 2000. Schmidt, who is expected to outline a series of new technologies involving everything from directories to net management to e-commerce, spoke by phone last week with US Network World Senior Editor Deni Connor.
NW: How is Novell exploiting the fact that Novell Directory Services (NDS) is a more mature product than Microsoft's Active Directory?
Schmidt: You are assuming that Active Directory is a real product. It hasn't shipped yet, but we're told it will ship soon. Once it ships, we have committed to fully interoperate with it. We have a technology that allows you to mix and match [servers and workstations] as needed. Most people will use NDS for corporate and backbone directories because it runs on more than just Windows 2000.
NW: What is that technology?
Schmidt: The technology is DirXML. We announced it last summer, and it is available now. It allows you to combine directories in interesting ways. We did that to make sure that if people made an NDS decision they could use what-ever other applications or directories are floating around. There are a bunch of DirXML products available now - for Lotus Notes, Oracle and PeopleSoft.
NW: When pitching a big Windows NT shop on NDS, how do you attempt to separate NDS from NetWare in the minds of their network executives?
Schmidt: NetWare and NDS are different products. They do different things. NDS is a product that runs on top of Windows NT, NetWare, Linux, Solaris and OS/390. I am aware of companies that have a large amount of Windows NT servers, but they also have a large number of Unix servers and mainframes, and NetWare servers. We have a variety of products that match those environments. With respect to NDS, it's a different type of sale. It's how NDS can help you integrate all your management and directory needs and corporate Web pages. These days, we start with NDS. When the customer understands NDS, we end up selling NetWare, as well as NDS running on top of Windows NT and Windows 2000. The strategic sale is the directory.
NW: What is Novell doing to stem the tide of users moving from NetWare to Windows NT?
Schmidt: There are situations where applications are available on NT and not on NetWare. Windows NT and NetWare are focused on different things. We want to make sure people understand the benefits of NetWare. We have shipped NetWare 5, and it has been successful.
NW: What is Novell's plan to attack the e-commerce market?
Schmidt: We have a product called eDirectory, which we an-nounced in November . [This week] we will announce products that run on top of eDirectory that allow you to see all your applications as though they are one.
NW: But how will Novell rise above all the noise created by the many other companies targeting e-commerce?
Schmidt: There aren't any companies that aren't going after the e-commerce market. But we have the only working cross-platform directory. In the security area, we are the only company that has a directory that can manage all the certificates a company may need. [Editor's note: Schmidt also says Novell plans to add a product to its ZENworks line focused on e-commerce.]NW: Novell recently bought a company called JustOn to get into the online storage services market. What other areas will Novell focus on this year through acquisitions?
Schmidt: We're going to buy a whole lot of little companies to fill out our technology map in the directory, management and security space.
NW: Can Novell remain independent for the next five years?
Schmidt: Sure. Is there some reason to think we couldn't? Novell is the fifth-largest software company in the world, revenue is growing, we're making a lot of cash, morale is good and customers are happy.