Novell touts One Net vision

Last year, Novell Inc. announced its One Net Services strategy at BrainShare 2000 in Salt Lake City, but almost one year later, one analyst suggested that customers are still very much unaware of what the whole strategy is about – and that Novell needs to do more to get customers educated.

To spread the word and offer some insight, Novell Canada Ltd. last month began its country-wide One Net 2001 event. Stops last month included Ottawa, Quebec City, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Edmonton and London, Ont. The tour stopped in Vancouver and Calgary in the beginning of this month, and will be in Winnipeg on March 13.

Customers at the One Net event in Toronto appeared to be there to learn about what Novell has to offer. The company has been focusing less on NetWare, and instead has been pushing its One Net vision, which includes its Directory-enabled Net Infrastructure Model (DENIM). At the time of One Net’s launch, Novell explained that all future products would be mapped against DENIM. The architecture was designed for network services which run on multiple platforms and leverage Novell Directory Services (NDS), to enable a customer-centric framework.

Sessions at the event covered every topic from the company’s DirXML to Single Sign-on, and explained Novell’s various products and technologies. And education is something that Novell should be applauded for doing, according to Toronto-based research manager Dan McLean, with IDC Canada.

He explained that Novell’s One Net model is an approach that most enterprises want to take right now.

“I think that the user community and business community out there would like to see all networks as one network…this movement to networks as a utility,” he said. “So not really differentiating between what a service provider network is, what a company’s own LAN is, what the Internet is…I think people would like to have that view that it is all one thing, if you will.”

So how is Novell doing in terms of driving that concept out and getting people to adopt their solution?

One Calgary-based Novell customer said he is content with the level of involvement the company has taken, and the direction in which it is going. Dr. Mark Genuis is the CEO of The essentialtalk Network, an Internet-based talk network which facilitates discussions about various topics. The company has been using Novell’s iChain – a security and management infrastructure for e-business – and a variety of other products within iChain for about a year and a half.

Genuis concurs with McLean, and said the One Net approach is the way to go. “I think momentum is really going to build around this concept,” he said.

When his company was formed, Genuis said that its own version of the One Net vision was adopted, which made Novell a good fit for essentialtalk’s needs.

“The whole concept of One Net for us has been crucial, and the company has bought into it totally,” he explained.

He noted that his employees are in very close contact with Novell, in part because essentialtalk is pushing the iChain product as much as it can because of its needs – and for its own benefit. That has created a need to keep in touch.

“The service level that we have experienced from Novell has actually been quite good,” he added.

And while essentialtalk has seen satisfaction, IDC’s McLean said other customers may not be singing the same tune.

“I don’t see a lot of evidence that (Novell is) being really successful, but it’s not to suggest that they’re not having some degree of success,” McLean noted. “When you’re talking about an issue like management…certainly in Canada (it) is a fairly new concept for a lot of folks. When Novell presents a management concept that’s fairly complicated and fairly detailed and comprehensive, that’s pretty foreign to a lot of businesses.”

What McLean said needs to initially happen is people just simply have to be educated about the value of management and the notion that there is value in it; that they ought to be doing it.

“And that given they’re driving business processes through networks and not just IT processes, that they really need to look at the reliability and performance of their networks,” McLean said. “The thing that enables you to do that is management. I think that’s where comprehensive concepts like Novell’s One Net Model begin right now. I think where Novell really has to spend a lot of time and effort is simply in driving out the concept and educating people to it.”

The problem also comes down to the fact that the model is complex, so there is really no way to educate customers simply, McLean said. He suggested the concept should be pared down to educate people more easily.