Novell announces a revamp of its network technologies

Seeking to deliver on much-publicized promises made earlier this year, Novell Inc. rolled out a series of products and features at the NetWorld+Interop conference in Atlanta last month, designed to unify disparate networks and services. The move also fuels Novell efforts to get back on track after sluggish earnings prompted nearly 900 layoffs last month.

Aimed at giving enterprises a more personalized and simplified way to use public and private networks, Novell Portal Services provides a single log-in and a single point of access to user-specific information gathered from the Internet, intranets and other networks.

The application framework leverages XML to tie together applications, services and information from different sources into a single portal interface that can be customized for groups or individual users. NDS eDirectory provides the link to identity-based services specific to a user’s job or need.

Novell also focused the spotlight on its directory technologies. The company announced general availability of its integration software DirXML 1.0, which combines directory technology with XML to enable efficient cross-platform and cross-network information exchange.

In addition, Version 8.5 of eDirectory made its debut packed with several new features. For example, the Filtered Replication feature makes it possible to host data from various applications on a single server, according to Ed Anderson, director of product management for Directory Services at Novell, in Provo, Utah. Another feature, iMonitor, lets administrators keep tabs on directory activities from any browser.

According to one analyst, although Novell is bringing out robust new technology, it must work to effectively convey its message to a new audience.

“Novell has been struggling to find a self-definition [and] some great engine of revenue growth to get them back in the game and they have had trouble,” said Dan Kusnetzky, vice-president of system software research at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass. “Most of [Novell’s] revenue comes from NetWare, and that is in decline.”

“The technology Novell announced at the show is very powerful. The question is not about the technology, but whether they can market it,” Kusnetzky said. “They have to consider carefully how [to] make their presence felt in a market that doesn’t know who they are. They have excellent technology, but they need better marketing.”

Rounding out the announcements, Linux vendor Red Hat Inc. plans to use Novell’s NDS eDirectory and DirXML as the directory services infrastructure for Red Hat Network, a recently announced Internet service for managing networks of Red Hat Linux.

The deal with Red Hat will help move eDirectory in the right direction, Kusnetzky said.

“The partnership with Red Hat was a very good move. If Novell can take its directory service and strike deal after deal of this nature, they can make this service grow,” he said.