Sign up for our newsletter
Technology / AI and automation

NOVELL: WHERE NEXT? – PART TWO

The Intranet is top of the to-do list for every chief technology officer worth their salt as they busy themselves installing browsers and Web servers. Novell has just woken up to find it might have the perfect package to run your Web site. But is anybody listening? asks Susan Amos from our sister publication, Software Futures.

NOVELL THE INTRANET COMPANY

While Noorda represented the old Novell, Marengi promises a new Novell with a new attitude. Speaking at a customer event he warbles, Our future is the Internet, like he only just heard of the damn thing. Netscape led the way. It was good for us vendors. You can’t stop evolution. (Translation: Novell didn’t notice the trend and is now in massive catch-up mode.) All an Intranet is, claims Marengi, is a new name for the network operating system, but Novell doesn’t mind the new nomenclature because it says it supports all industry buzzwords. To the company’s way of thinking, an Intranet is a specialty O/S, not Unix or DOS, that does fast file-and-print. Enter NetWare stage left. And just how is Novell going to cash in on this newly discovered area of technology? With the grandly titled IntraNetware, that’s how. It is an Intranet in a box, made up of NetWare 4.11, previously known to you and me under code name Green River, when it ships this week or next, and version 2.5 of Novell’s Web server which lets you publish HyperText Markup Language (HTML) documents. You also get 50 Netscape browser licenses, (Marengi says Netscape is the world’s most popular browser, but for how much longer?), an IPX to TCP/IP gateway and a multi-protocol router.The gateway gives NetWare users access to a Web server, without exposing them to hackers from outside – the company talks it up as a level one firewall. Browsers coming in from the outside world see only the server’s IP address, everyone inside the company has a Novell IPX address, which is invisible to an outside browser. The multi-protocol router links your company to an Internet Service Provider. The only rough edges in the We are an Intranet company marketing message are the company’s email and calendaring package GroupWise, which we looked at briefly earlier, and its systems management package for NetWare and NT LANs, ManageWise. Just where do they fit in?

WHAT ABOUT MANAGEWISE AND GROUPWISE?

White papers from our partners

ManageWise is a deadringer for Microsoft’s Systems Management Server (SMS), with the capability to grab a troublemaker user’s Windows screen and sort out the mess. You can copy files from a source workstation to a target workstation, set disk thresholds for salespeople that install pesky disk-eating games. You can do all this remotely over a wide area network (WAN), cutting out the need for local branch support. The future holds a software agent on an NT server that can send the administrator an email that a processor is in the process of ODing. Returning to GroupWise, version 5.0 was launched in New York City with a bit of a bang last month, and the software is looking good. The main thing that’s new about the product is document management. You can type a document in Microsoft Word, then it gets saved to the server as a GroupWise document. This means you can search for keywords in documents and email. The email portion supports more file formats, so you can receive files even if you’ve never heard of the package they’re put together in. You can now have threaded discussions, which group together all replies to one email, just like you can with IBM’s more famous groupware package Lotus Notes. Novell claims 6.5 million users for its offering, not that far off recent estimates of the Notes installed base. GroupWise now supports Windows 95 and NT clients, but still has to have a copy of NetWare running below deck, as its administration is done under the aegis of NDS. Industry watchers at Forrester Research, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, think ManageWise and GroupWise are for the chop. GroupWise might interest messaging companies looking to complement their existing offerings, like San Diego, California-based Qualcomm or Software.com in Santa Barbara, California. ManageWise could attract the likes of Computer Associates or Hewlett-Packard, if either vendor was keen to inject its systems management packages with a NetWare fix. Integration wouldn’t, presumably, be too much of a problem as Novell has made sure that ManageWise can feed alerts into most third party products in the OpenView ilk. But our friend Marengi denies vehemently that either product will go, (sounds like Software Futures touched another nerve) We’re 100% focused on developing these products,he thunders. They’re fully funded for 1997. We’ll spend $300m this year and next on their development. This year you’ll see us market four things: the company, IntranetWare, GroupWise and ManageWise. There’ll be absolutely no sale of those product lines. Which probably means no reasonable offer refused. And while we’re on the subject of sell-offs, Marengi brings up Frankenberg’s Novell Embedded Systems Technology NEST, the blue sky project we gently mocked at the beginning of this piece. I’ll continue funding but I will not focus on marketing. It’s future technology. We’re working with the power companies to use their networks. The power line’s a natural to connect you to the Internet. Every building has one. Oh dear, and we thought we’d kissed NEST goodbye. Hopefully that’ll be the last mention of it ever. But why does Marengi find it so unfair that Software Futures asks about his intentions to sell off products? The company did, after all, dump the lowly desktop applications suite PerfectOffice which couldn’t keep apace with Microsoft Office.

BUT YOU DID SELL OFF WORDPERFECT, DIDN’T YOU?

Yes, Novell did. Marengi says sorry about the mess. WordPerfect was a debacle. It was an absolute nonfit. It took a while for us to recognize it. But now we’re putting the past behind us, we’re looking at the future and at the present. I apologize for the past, he says sounding less and less mean by the minute, and with gun still firmly in holster. For WordPerfect, Novell only managed to claw back $197m – most of it in Corel shares – less than a quarter of the $855m it squandered in June 1994. And we trust Marengi has not forgotten that other tail-between-the-legs sell-off – the disposal of UnixWare to SCO last year, three years after it acquired AT&T Bell Labs Unix source code for $337m. SCO got UnixWare, the Unix source code and access to NDS thrown in for good measure. All Novell got to show for the transaction was an upping of its stake in SCO plus a maximum of $84m in projected UnixWare royalties. Certainly some customers, particularly in Europe, were burnt by the dumping of WordPerfect and are currently experiencing problems getting support for the product out of its new owner Corel. Marengi now offers to play fairy godmother, pledging his help to get problems solved: I’m on the board of directors for Corel. I’ll make sure the chairman knows about European support problems, he promised. Other customers wondered out loud to Marengi why Certified Novell Engineers, who’ve gone through a formal qualification to learn how to support NetWare, are treated no different to end users. Marengi’s gonna change this too. For the channel to resist the lure of Microsoft NT, Novell has certainly got to start sharing advance knowledge with partners. And users too, for that matter.

NICE PRODUCT, SHAME ABOUT THE COMPANY

Sipi at Network Clinic talks of his frustrations with Novell’s internal workings. He was recently passed from pillar to post trying to get a free copy of IntraNetware in order to get fully conversant with the product. A massive restructuring is well overdue, he feels. Most of Network Clinic’s revenue comes from remote management services. Its revenue is around #750,000. Sipi thinks NetWare 4.11, which is a subset of IntraNetware, and GroupWise are excellent products. He especially likes Novell’s improved migration tool, DS Migrate, to take users from Version 3.0 to 4.0. Summing up he feels that Novell has a good engineering track record, and knows how to do business when it’s got 100% market share, but can’t cope when faced with competition.

CONCLUSION: WHAT’S IN STORE FOR NOVELL?

The Web server space is crowded enough already with the likes of Netscape, Sun, Microsoft and even Steve Jobs’ gang at Next Software all cranking up the volume about their Web solutions. Novell, a company that’s not used to having to sell itself, is going to have to learn to shout a whole lot louder or it’s gonna find itself drowned out by a tidal wave. And what exactly will it say to attract new customers? In the hangdog manner of its current slogan, we anticipate it will whisper the following: Buy IntraNetware. We know it’s based on our proprietary IPX protocol, but we’ll also give you a gateway to get round it. And don’t worry we are beavering away behind the scenes to strip IPX out of the picture altogether. Hmm, doesn’t exactly have the X factor appeal. With that kind of a message, would you buy it? The only customers that are likely to allow Novell’s IntraNetware onto their shortlists are those running version 3.0 of NetWare today. But don’t hold your breath. Many of those are predicted to jump ship to NT – a recent survey by Forrester Research found a figure as small as 20% of NetWare users only had upgraded to Version 4.x. Novell’s 60 million seats of NetWare will admittedly not vanish overnight, but they are unlikely to represent big opportunities to garner support revenue. With NetWare 3.x working just fine, users can set their NetWare LANs to cruise control and forget about them until it’s time for a complete overhaul of the legacy network. So the future for Novell looks bleak at best. Little revenue opportunities from maintenance, not many upgrades from NetWare 3.x to IntraNetware, the sell-off of ManageWise and GroupWise. It seems like we shouldn’t just be mourning the crumbling into dust of the smart house, but also the slow and agonizing demise of Novell.

á
This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.

CBR Staff Writer

CBR Online legacy content.