After months of informal briefings, Novell Inc launched version 4.0 of its NetWare network operating system yesterday with few surprises. As expected, the main thrust of the release is to tidy up the way that the system will work in large enterprises by presenting the network as a single system rather than a collection of individual servers needing separate logins. To this end the old NetWare Bindery database has been replaced by NetWare Directory Services, based, wherever possible on the X500 directory standard. This approach was first outlined a year ago (CI No 1,878) when the product was still called NetWare 3.2. The new Directory holds everything from users and their privileges to file servers and printers as objects within a distributed database – the result is that a user logging onto one server gets immediate access to resources, irrespective of location on the internet. Administrators should find it much easier to manage large networks of servers and cope with users moving around the organisation, especially since the new release comes with souped-up Windows-based administration tools. To get the full benefits, all the servers will have to be upgraded, however a bindery emulation function ensures that servers running new and old versions of NetWare will interwork. Two notable additions will appeal to corporates first is a tightening of security, including the use of RSA public key encryption for password protection. Novell says that the product will be submitted for C2 security rating, and as part of this, the all-powerful Supervisor account has been removed in favour of a collection of administration accounts. The result is that it is possible for an auditor to check network and data usage, secure from the scrutiny of the actual system operators. The second feature is a protection mechanism that stops NetWare Loadable Modules from crashing the entire server, by adding memory protection. This hits application performance, but the company has come up with the innovative idea of letting users run NLMs in protected mode until they are proved stable, after which they can be invited into the same memory segment as the core operating system to boost performance. Apart from that, Novell says that it has extended and streamlined existing NetWare 3.11 code, rather than indulging in a complete re-write. The result is a long list of small, but nonetheless useful improvements such as file compression and internationalisation modules that enable one user to see NetWare prompts in English, while another on the same server sees them in French or Spanish. New imaging interfaces and capabilities are also included, as reported in CI No 1,880. Who will buy it? NetWare 4.0 is priced only slightly higher than 3.11. A five-user licence for the new product costs UKP930 – $1,400 – and rises to UKP10,460 – $15,700 – for the 250 users. This compares with UKP730 and UKP8,330 for the older product. In addition NetWare 4.0 comes in 500 and 1,000 user packages, costing UKP17,600 – $26,400 – and UKP32,000 – $48,000 respectively. Novell says it anticipates the majority of NetWare 3.11 sites with 100 users or more will upgrade – a sizable chunk of its user-base. Those already enrolled in the NetWare Update Programme or who bought their NetWare under the Premium promotion will automatically get NetWare 4.0 when it ships March 31.
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