Novell revs branch-office network

Novell Inc. announced recently the next version of its software for remote-office connectivity, which lets users in branch offices without IT support connect their computers to a corporate network and communicate over IP.

Nterprise Branch Office 2 now works not only on NetWare 5.1 and 6 networks but also on Windows, Linux and NetWare 6.5. The software, which is installed on an industry-standard Intel server, coordinates the management, communication and backup of files over the Internet with the corporate data center.

With Nterprise Branch Office, data is synchronized with the file server in the corporate location as changes occur, thus protecting it and providing automated back-up capability.

Rick Smith, national director of technology solutions at the American Diabetes Association in Alexandria, Va., installed Nterprise Branch Office in 70 locations across the U.S. to replace aging servers.

“We don’t have technical resources in the field, so every time something failed, I had to dispatch somebody to go there and fix what happened,” Smith said.

Smith also could not get anyone in the remote offices to back up their networks. With Nterprise Branch Office, backups occur automatically.

“We were able to save about a million dollars by going with (Nterprise Branch Office) when we looked at acquisition of hardware and license fees,” Smith said.

Installing Nterprise Branch Office in Linux environments requires Novell’s eDirectory; in Windows network, user authentication to the network is accomplished with Microsoft Corp.’s Active Directory.

Other features new to Nterprise Branch Office are numerous. Among them are:

— Enhanced disaster recovery, which lets users connect to the central office if the branch-office server fails and continue to work.

— A post office agent for GroupWise that lets branch office employees to use Novell’s e-mail and collaboration tool without having GroupWise installed in their office and have it managed centrally.

— Improved password management, which lets users in remote offices change their passwords though a Web browser.

— A ZENworks agent that lets software be distributed to the remote office from the central location.

Nterprise Branch Office 2 is available for US$2,500 per server. Each server supports as many as 250 users.