Novell Synchs Up With Aquarium

SALT LAKE CITY (03/28/2000) - Besides presenting its "one Net" company vision here at BrainShare 2000, Novell Inc. is also demonstrating file-synchronization technology code-named Aquarium and mapping out the futures of NDS and eDirectory.

With Novell's focus squarely set on Net services, the directory is being relegated to a supporting role, said Paul Corriveau, Novell product manager for directory services.

"Novell has transitioned over the past few years," said Corriveau, adding that Novell's plan is to include eDirectory as a component of its various Net solutions; Novell will sell the solutions to customers and simply include the directory as a piece of the package. "eDirectory will be more of a foundation, a development platform," Corriveau said.

The company is pushing eDirectory toward developers, hoping to spark their interest by offering the directory product for free, as well as attracting interest from companies such as Plumtree, BroadVision, and Intershop who will plug eDirectory into some of their products to tackle scalability, authentication, and user management.

With the three products developed separately under the code name Tao -- eDirectory 8.5, NDS Corporate Edition 8.5, and DirXML -- set for a summer release, Novell is touting DirXML as a strong synchronization tool for any data source, including applications, operating systems, and databases. Additionally, eDirectory will serve as the central repository to tie all these sources together, Corriveau added.

NDS' future, code-named Falcon, will likely emerge in the spring of 2001 as a "faster, more elegant, hard-core, pure-LDAP" directory, according to Corriveau.

Aquarium, another synchronization technology Novell has in the works, is being demonstrated on Linux, Sun's Solaris, and NetWare but also runs on Windows NT and Windows 2000. It will synchronize the files of a user's multiple PCs -- such as a desktop PC at work, a laptop, and a home PC -- over the Internet.

"This gives you seamless experiences at home, at work, or on the road," said Shawn Hansen, product manager for Novell, adding that because Aquarium uses a server as the central synchronization and encryption point for distributing files to a user's PCs, it is also possible to access files from a Web browser, such as in an airport kiosk.

Before Aquarium can synchronize files, a user must download a light plug-in on each PC, Hansen said. Once the plug-in is on each PC, changes to files made on one computer will be automatically changed and updated on the other PCs, eliminating the need for users to e-mail large files to home computers when working away from the office or to work with non-updated files on the road.

"This is really extending the network outward, creating one Net," said Hansen, alluding to Novell's new marketing message. "[Aquarium] can give you anywhere, anytime personalized access."

Aquarium's synchronization technology comes from Novell's acquisitions of JustOn.com, a hosted file service company, and PGSoft. Aquarium will be deployed as either a hosted service integrated with JustOn.com offerings or as an appliance, both options supporting multiple platforms, added Hansen.

Eventually, Aquarium will be extended to Macintosh platforms, and Palm-device support is also a possibility.

Novell is also working on making its next version of storage services more granular with Novell Modular Authentication Services, offering a less complex option to determine and regulate who has access to see specific pieces of stored company information -- a vital piece of business-to-business commerce, Hansen said.

Novell Inc., in Provo, Utah, is at www.novell.com.

Stephanie Sanborn is an InfoWorld reporter.

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