BRAINSHARE - Novell Details Far-Reaching Product Road Map

Novell used the second day of BrainShare 2000 here to map out future plans for some of its products and define how they fit into the company's new DENIM (Directory-Enabled Net Infrastructure Model) structure, including GroupWise, digitalme and instantme identity-related products, Novell Cluster Services (NCS), and Novell Internet Messaging System (NIMS).

GroupWise, which fits into the Net Portal Services piece of DENIM's framework under the Knowledge heading, will leverage eDirectory as a place to store all customer, employee, and partner information. With the addition of wireless access and the WebAccess Web client, GroupWise will be able to identify the devices it is "talking" to, said Leif Pedersen, director of product management for NDS and directory-enabled applications.

Pedersen added that GroupWise administrators will be able to use a Web-based GroupWise monitoring tool to get system alerts and manage their GroupWise environment from a smart phone or PDA.

"We're moving to a situation where the walls have to come down, the firewalls have to come down," Pedersen said. "You have to be able to manage information overload."

Wireless capabilities will be built into the next version of GroupWise, code-named Bulletproof, along with an XML infrastructure known as XIS (XML Integration Services) and the ability to add back-end agents to perform specific functions such as virus scanning or ERP (enterprise resource planning) access.

Although Bulletproof will likely not emerge until the fall of 2000, a beta version of GroupWise wireless features is now available for download, according to Dave Wilkes, director of GroupWise engineering.

GroupWise will also be extended to the Solaris and Linux platforms in its next release and will begin to take on more of a knowledge-management angle by integrating document management features and integrating with the business workflow environment, Pedersen said.

NIMS -- Novell's ISP- and ASP (application service provider)-targeted messaging product -- will move to Solaris and Linux platforms to join NetWare during the second quarter of 2000, since Linux and Solaris operating systems are a mainstay in the service provider environment.

"Frankly, NT is not a platform ISPs and ASPs care about today," said Lynn Madsen, product manager for Novell's Collaboration Services Group, noting this may change in the future and NIMS will likely eventually expand to support Windows NT.

All versions of NIMS will use the same code base and will be linked to eDirectory, so NIMS can run on all three platforms simultaneously and administrators can parcel out NIMS features to different platforms, such as putting the message store on NetWare and SMTP on Linux. The client side of NIMS remains independent from the message store so users can log in from anywhere and get the same message store access, Madsen said.

"With eDirectory back there, we don't have to be tied to a hardware architecture," Madsen explained. "We let the directory figure it all out."

NIMS will remain a standards-based messaging product, and although wireless capabilities are a priority, Madsen said Novell engineers are wary of adding features to NIMS if it will detrimentally affect the product's speed and performance.

"We're not stupid -- we don't think we're going to make a ton of money by selling e-mail to ISPs," Madsen said. "[E-mail] is a commodity, and there's got to be a hundred-thousand options out there. What's the differentiator? It's the directory. The future is wide open; because of the market we're in, we'll let the market determine what moves we do."

Novell's identity management technology, digitalme, will also have its future dictated by its market. According to Cydni Rogers Tetro, product manager for NDS, digitalme technology will be turned into a hosted service as well as a separate product, with the hosted service gathering interest from new start-up companies and e-businesses that are interested in digital identities but don't want to manage and administer the service themselves.

At BrainShare, Novell and Lucent Technologies are using digitalme, along with Novell's instantme instant-messaging product and Lucent software switching technology, to attract interest in the companies' push for a PAM (Presence and Availability Management) standard that allows communications systems to share identity and presence information across telephony and IP system. The two companies also want to show the role of digital identities in business, Tetro said.

"We want to bridge the gaps between all the pieces of the Net," she added. "Over time, identities on the Net will have a level playing field."

According to John Gailey, vice president of Novell's In-The-Net Services, the instant-messaging product instantme comes as a result of Novell's partnership with America Online and is completely AOL-compatible; it is intended to be an enterprise-focused instant messaging product and is now available as a free download.

In the second quarter of 2000, Gailey said Novell will unveil "secure instantme," with encryption and certificate-based security to help overcome distrust of instant messaging due to its insecure nature.

"Now I can go from company to company, securely," said Gailey, who noted that although instant messaging is intended for quick conversations while e-mail handles more involved communication, secure instantme could be used during conversations between business partners or used to answer short customer questions by call center employees.

Novell is also demonstrating an integrated video conferencing-instantme client at BrainShare, created along with White Pine Software.

NCS 1.01, introduced last week, adds support for NetWare 5.1, better clustering administration through ConsoleOne, and 32-node support. The next step for NCS will be addition of dynamic load balancing, so server resources can be automatically adjusted if one piece of the system is being overloaded rather than requiring manual repositioning, and support for distributed applications.

According to Michael Bryant, director of product management for storage services, the link between NDS and clustering helps ease and simplify the administration workload.

"Easier is always better," explained Bryant, noting that NDS acts as the information store for NCS and the cluster object is an object in the NDS tree, so NDS serves as one central point to make changes to cluster information. "Why not leverage the brain trust we have in NDS to support clustering?"

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