Novell puts Internet services' strategy in spotlight

Novell this week will introduce its "'Net services" strategy, combining several products into an offering aimed at increasing Novell's business-to-business transaction and Internet commerce reach.

A series of ZENworks announcements, centered around a release of ZENworks for Networks 1.0 and ZENworks for Servers products, will garner a good piece of the limelight, sources said, noting that ZENworks will be extended past its current desktop management capabilities, becoming more of a brand for Novell.

ZENworks for Networks will be a QoS (Quality of Service) solution, using NDS (Novell Directory Services) to manage network traffic and store QoS policies for bandwidth allocation, edge device configuration, and security. The solution is made up of policy servers and traffic management agents hosted on servers within the network.

According to Novell, ZENworks for Networks is also an important piece of the company's Directory-Enabled Network (DEN) standardization effort to automate device configuration management.

Novell also will detail its iChain platform, a series of e-business software products to Internet-enable business-to-business commerce and help companies do business on the Internet. Sources said that NDS eDirectory will continue to be a key component in Novell's Net services push, iChain strategy, and future Novell product releases.

"My rough impression is that it's their e-commerce play, and it's going to come out in something similar to what the Sun-Netscape Alliance is doing with iPlanet, trying to release a suite of products that will enable Web commerce," said Michael Hoch, research analyst at Aberdeen Group, in Boston. "Novell can offer a complete solution as opposed to a point product, and that's the impetus behind iChain: to move more toward solution selling as opposed to selling directories and platforms."

Novell Internet Messaging System (NIMS), an Internet-based messaging system which leverages NDS and supports LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol), POP (Post Office Protocol), IMAP, and SSL (Secure Socket Layers) standards, will also be pushed further into the business-to-business arena.

"I think that they're clearly right to be moving into this business-to-business software solutions area," said Dan Blum, senior vice president of The Burton Group, in Midvale, Utah. "We're seeing so much activity in that area; a lot of the Y2K spending is moving into commerce-related initiatives, security-related initiatives. It's an area where Microsoft has not been doing so well as they've been trying to get (Windows 2000) out, and Novell needs to position itself strongly from the directory and security infrastructure standpoint."

Novell will continue to release products in groups as parts of an overarching solution to show users how its products work together, sources said. The expansion of Novell's Internet reach comes just a few weeks before Microsoft's Windows 2000 release, a fact that Michael Howard, principal analyst at Infonetics Research, in San Jose, California, believes is no coincidence.

"(Novell) knew that marketing needed a lot more emphasis and they put the investment behind it in terms of really sharp people and the actual messages and how they're reaching the target customers," Howard said. "They're definitely proactive now, taking the lead and not just being reactive to Microsoft; they want to keep the gorilla in the mist and keep Novell out in the clear."

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