New CTO expands on Novell’s growth vision

Last month, at an event headlined by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Novell Inc. announced the rebranding of its products in four key categories. Alan Nugent, the company’s new CTO, says that effort is in line with Novell’s mission to match its technical expertise with stronger marketing. He spoke with a group of Network World (U.S.) editors last month about where he sees Novell heading.

NW: What’s your vision for Novell?

Nugent: When Novell announced OneNet [two-and-a-half] years ago, the intent was to provide a framework for the growth of the company – where we wanted to be when we grew up. It was also a message to the market that said, ‘We’re a company that provides products, solutions and services that allow you to have information without boundaries from any device at any time.’ When the company made that announcement, it was not really able to deliver across the entire spectrum. Now we are. We’ve spent a fair amount of time looking at the market and trying to figure out what we needed to do to complement the OneNet vision. The final piece of that was our acquisition of SilverStream (Software Inc.) and bringing Web services development into OneNet. The company has now focused around four areas: secure identity management, Web services development, cross-platform network services, and consulting and technical services.

NW: What’s the future of NetWare and how will it fit into your vision for Novell?

Nugent: The market looks at us and sees a NetWare company. That’s an image we need to change. NetWare is an underpinning of the vision, just as other technologies are. Our client base is large and strong – certainly not as large as Microsoft (Corp.)’s, but with 90 million users out there and quite a few million servers, we have a loyal and happy installed base. We want to give NetWare users more options, a development environment for applications that can run on NetWare. Our tact is to strengthen the NetWare base, but also recognize that the market is less concerned about the [operating system] today. Since the value of NetWare is the services it provides, why not take those services and put them on different platforms?

NW: Where does your 64-bit version of NetWare for the Itanium processor stand?

Nugent: There is a large team working on the next-generation of NetWare. We have an internal project called Nakoma. SilverStream is porting its application server to Nakoma so we will have an application delivery platform. In terms of 64-bit, there is running code.

NW: What is Novell doing with Linux?

Nugent: We are in active discussions with folks in the Linux space. While I don’t want to get into a lot of detail here, let me say that Linux is a critical platform for our future.

NW: Novell has revived BorderManager and introduced the SecureAccess suite, which both include caching. Novell’s Volera (Inc.) subsidiary also does caching. How does this all shake out in an environment where other caching companies are dying off or changing their focuses?

Nugent: [Our different efforts] are not uncomplementary. Volera is still a key technology. We are continuing to invest in the company. There are some product and feature issues we need to resolve, but we expect [Volera] to grow this year.

NW: You have implemented products such as Volera Excelerator and NetDevice NAS as soft appliances that users install on industry-standard servers. Where are you going with soft appliances?

Nugent: We think of [soft appliances] as network services. As you look at NetWare services such as clustering, file, print and mail, we are extracting those away from the [operating system] so they can run on any platform. At the same time, we have no intention of walking away from NetWare.

NW: Is Novell going to offer platform-independent Web services?

Nugent: Yes. We will continue to evolve the [SilverStream] exteNd family to be agnostic. While it may be in the back of everyone’s mind [here] to look at Novell products, if a customer wants to use a product such as Netegrity’s SiteMinder instead of [our] iChain, that’s what we’ll [sell them.] Our credibility is based on our agnosticism.

NW: Do you have evidence that there’s really a market for Web services technology?

Nugent: It depends on if you believe what the analysts are saying. There’s clearly a market for enterprise application integration; Web services are the most dominant application in that space. While it’s not a multibillion market yet, there is something broader than just UDDI [Universal Description, Discovery and Integration] and WSDL [Web Services Description Language].

NW: Is there any demand for a UDDI server?

Nugent: There’s a need for two UDDI servers – an enterprise-class server based around [our] eDirectory and a lightweight personal development server for testing the building of Web applications. The enterprise server is under development in Provo (Utah); the personal version is included in exteNd.