After 14 years humming Sun Microsystems Inc mantra, the network is the computer, newly-installed Novell Inc chairman and chief executive Eric Schmidt now reckons the network is the network. And administering and connecting networks is where he reckons Novell is going halt the slide and become a major network player again. Schmidt’s bold claim in his keynote at Networld+Interop, is that a year from now Novell will be a pure internet and intranet leader. And how, you may ask, is the 14 year-old Provo, Utah company that failed to leave the internet starting blocks under former CEO Robert Frankenburg going to achieve this? Through exploiting what Schmidt reckons is a previously unidentified and untapped new market: connected networks that need to share data through a centralized repository – the meat and drink of Novell’s NDS Netware Directory Services. The reason it is untapped is because no company can do it yet, and because of NDS, maybe only Novell is positioned to even try at the moment. But there are a few issues to deal with before Novell can do that. For a start, platforms. Schmidt says that by the end of this year, NDS will be supported on 75%-80% of Unix machines – Novell has been giving away basic NDS since last year to encourage its widespread porting. Schmidt said the Windows NT version of NDS will ship in the summer, giving Novell about a six month jump on Microsoft, which will include its rival Active Directory in NT 5.0, due to ship first quarter 1998. Schmidt was dismissive of this week’s deal between Microsoft and Cisco Systems Inc, whereby the pair will partner to bring WAN capabilities to Active Directory and port the directory services to Unix, giving NDS a strong competitor: we’re shipping, theirs isn’t, he said, adding that he thought Novell would maintain at least a year’s lead over the pair’s technology when it arrives. As well as multi-platform NDS, Novell also needs to add security features, such as certification and digital signing, both of which Novell will work with partners to achieve, said Schmidt, without naming names or dates. Also central to Novell’s future is the next cut of IntranetWare, codenamed Moab and due at the end of this year. Schmidt said that will include elements of the Wolf Mountain clustering work. He declined to identify which bits would be layered into Moab, which he described as a soup-to-nuts operating system, but the full Wolf Mountain technology won’t be available until the IntranetWare cut after Moab, for which is there is no date yet. Schmidt also said Moab would support NLM NetWare Loadable Module files, indeed the company will support them for the next 100 years, said Schmidt. The third element missing from Novell’s arsenal at the moment is native IP. The company has its own version, IPX, but Moab will support native IP, and have a better memory management, symmetric multi- processing, virtual memory and a Java virtual machine, says Schmidt. Finally, Schmidt responded to users’ criticisms fired at him about Novell’s marketing campaign, by saying you can’t beat up on marketing until you beat up on strategy. We don’t think to much of the weak and slightly embarrassing ‘Rock the Net’ slogan, either, but we also get the feeling it’s going to be a lot harder to beat up on Novell’s strategy now Schmidt’s is in its corner.
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