Novell prods users to make NetWare 5.1 upgrade

Novell Inc. last week announced its latest plan to woo its customers with older software to adopt the most current edition of NetWare.

The company is offering a 20 percent discount on an upgrade protection package, which includes NetWare 5.1, plus patches and service packs as they are released.

NetWare 5.1 is optimized to work as an application or Web server. The next major edition of NetWare, Version 6.0, is scheduled to ship this fall and is designed to run on multiprocessor machines, incorporates clustering and includes Novell's online file-sharing iFolder technology.

Novell thinks Version 6.0 won't be for everyone - the company estimates up to 70 percent of its customers are still using NetWare 3.x or 4.x. But the company would like to encourage more of its installed base to move to Version 5.1. The company could use the revenue boost, and it would make it easier for Novell to support customers.

Novell's revenue from packaged software sales dropped to US$35 million in the second quarter of fiscal year 2001, down 25 percent from the first quarter. Meanwhile, Novell's share of the network operating system market, which it owned more than half of in the mid-1990s, has slipped to 17 percent.

Under Novell's regular NetWare Upgrade Protection Bundle, when IT managers migrate a 100-node NetWare 4.1 network to NetWare 5.1, they would ordinarily pay $6,350; under the new discounted program, the cost would be $5,100. Midsize enterprise customers with corporate or volume licensing agreements would get an additional discount of 20 percent or more.

"It sounds like a sweet deal," says Dennis Large, a LAN administrator with the University of Louisville in Kentucky, which has 9,000 users running on NetWare 4.1. "Keeping up with patches is bad enough. If you have additional hoops to jump through to order upgraded product, it's less likely to happen," he adds.

Loren Carter, network administrator for real estate developer The Rouse Co. in Las Vegas has purchased the upgrade protection. "We've purchased protection for [Novell Directory Service] for NT, NetWare and BorderManager," he says. "[With upgrade protection,] I don't need to keep track of all the new bells and whistles for the installed programs. After we signed up, all I need to do is open the boxes as they arrive in the mail."

Still, some customers are content with older versions of NetWare or are bidding the Novell software adieu. "I don't see great benefits with NetWare 5 and it won't get budgeted if we don't really need it," says Nils Peterson, a system administrator at Pysma, a marketing research company in Nuremburg, Germany, with five NetWare 4.11 servers.

Louis Francoeur, a programmer analyst for silicon manufacturer Becancour Silicon in St. Laurent, Quebec, says his company has decided to migrate from NetWare to Windows NT or 2000. "NetWare is much more expensive than Windows 2000 and difficult to support. NetWare specialists are non-existent in our region," he says.