Novell Moves Directory Services Beyond Firewall

FRAMINGHAM (04/03/2000) - Novell Inc. raised the ante for directory services last week with its demonstration of new eDirectory features and products in hopes of turning the venerable NDS into an e-commerce platform.

At its annual Brainshare event in Salt Lake City, Novell outlined its Directory-Enabled Net Infrastructure Model, a vision of how the company intends to tie its offerings around the Novell Directory Services (NDS) eDirectory. In CEO Eric Schmidt's "one Net" vision, as outlined in his keynote speech, the directory provides organizations a way to bridge the gap between intranet and Internet, giving customers and business partners secure access to internal systems.

"I don't know how doable it is, but it makes a lot of our problems go away," said Patrick Pickens, a network engineer at Fluor Corp., a $12 billion global engineering services company in Aliso Viejo, California.

Michael Hoch, an analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston, called the promises a "clever message," but said Novell will have to prove it can deliver. Toward that end, Novell previewed eDirectory-related technologies at Brainshare, most of them due in products by year's end (see chart).

Users raved about the Domain Name Server Federation feature that will be added to NDS this summer and will allow user rights to be assigned to groups from other companies. "We have billion-dollar deals where we work with customers for the length of the project," said Fred Leakeas, an information systems operations manager at Intermountain Gas Co. in Boise, Idaho. "You have to give these people access to your system."

Sessions on the coexistence of NDS with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 and Active Directory were popular at Brainshare. "I think it's wise of Novell to integrate with [Active Directory] rather than be a competitor," said Jim Sheats, a business systems adviser at Federal Express Corp. in Memphis. Novell currently ships its products on platforms including NetWare, Windows NT and 2000, Solaris and Linux.

Attendees found pluses and minuses in Novell's marketing after an overhaul of the department last year. "The work [Senior Vice President] Steve Adams is doing to unify the company's approach to marketing is impressive," said Hoch.

But Huntington, New York-based NetWare reseller Bruce Waring said Novell needs to communicate more with the general public. "We talk to our customers about Novell, but they go home at night and see ‘Where do you want to go today?' on TV," said Waring.

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