Novell touts unified vision at Brainshare

Acquisition and management news aside, BrainShare 2001 in Salt Lake City last month was an opportunity for Novell Inc. to keep moving forward with its One Net vision and introduce some new products to its customers.

As a part of its ongoing vision, Novell introduced its Novell Portal Services 1.0, software for e-businesses that offers users a “single, unified view of the Net,” according to the company. Novell said Portal Services will remove the barriers between extranets, intranets, the Internet and wired and wireless networks. Users are able to sign in once for browser-based access to information they require, and are even able to create portals for customers and partners to get that information they require.

First-time BrainShare attendee Shane Schlosser, PC LAN administrator for the University College of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, B.C., installed a demo of the Portal Services shortly after returning home from Salt Lake City -and one day after doing so, said he was impressed.

“I think it’s really neat. It’s very customizeable – the things we can do with it is pretty much limited by our imagination. That I really like…and the fact that it’s easy to administer through a Web page and it’s very flexible. It’s got some little bugs to it,” he added, “but it’s a beta copy.”

The Portal Services support NetWare, Windows NT/2000, Linux and Solaris operating systems. Available this week, Novell Portal Services is priced at US$59 per user or US$49,000 per CPU.

Also announced: a new feature to be included in the NetWare 6.0 release, code-named iFolder. Essentially, iFolder enables users to retrieve information or files from anywhere, at any time, by creating storage space that can be accessed by any Internet-enabled device.

As an example, Jeff Hawkins, vice-president of Novell’s storage business team, explained that if users wanted to take some work home from the office, they could simply use iFolder to store that information instead of having to save it to disk or e-mail it to themselves to get it. Once home, all the user has to do is log in and the information is there. And, he added, if a user is working off-line, work is updated automatically to iFolder once the user reconnects.

“It runs on Web servers, and the way that security works (is) it’s using HTTP as its protocol. On the client, when you install it, it creates a secured mechanism that allows you to transmit and store it securely,” Hawkins said. “So we’re not even using SSL. What happens is, the information is transmitted securely and stored securely. And the reason – there’s nothing wrong with SSL – but on the server, it just doesn’t scale.”

Not only are files transmitted securely, but Hawkins noted that stored information is also encrypted, so even in the unlikely event that information is stolen or compromised, it will still be secure.

“We have a lot of demand from our users – both faculty and students – to access their files from off-campus, and iFolder to the portals is something we are looking to implement to give them secure access to the data,” Schlosser said.

iFolder is currently being tested in beta, but will be available in the third quarter of the year as a part of NetWare 6 and as a separate product for NetWare 5.1 and Windows NT/2000. Pricing was not yet available.

Novell also announced some other happenings on the storage side. Along with an agreement with storage vendor EMC Corp., Novell revealed that it will be introducing the Novell Network Storage Appliance, a network attached storage (NAS) device that will support Novell, Windows, Unix, Linux and Mac clients. The product is targeted at the remote office, workgroup, department and small business markets, according to the company, and will be available this summer. Pricing was not yet available.

The agreement with EMC – called the Novell-EMC Cooperative Support Agreement (CSA) – will offer customers with support contracts from both companies a single-call solution. Joint customers will be able to reduce time to resolution of service calls through this agreement, according to Novell. The program will initially be offered to Novell’s Premium Service customers, but EMC is offering it to all of its customers at no additional cost.

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