Novell close to e-commerce launch

Novell is readying a big push into e-commerce.

Novell officials told financial analysts on Thursday that the company will launch its i-Chain commerce framework -- which will be based on a new Novell certificate server -- before the year is out.

Also before the end of 1999, Novell is expecting to deliver its next versions of Novell Directory Services version 8 on Solaris and NT; its "Cobra" NetWare 5.1 release; and Orion NetWare 5 clustering product.

And by mid-2000, Novell is expecting to have fielded 15 NDS directory-enabled products, officials added. Among these will be more Internet appliance products that will go through OEMs like Dell Computer. A beta program a network-attached storage appliance will commence in the next six months, Novell executives said.

Novell officials talked about the company's commitments following its release of its third-quarter financials. Novell beat First Call estimates by a penny, earning $49m (£30.3m), or 14 cents per share, on sales of $327m. Third-quarter sales represented a 20 percent improvement over the year-ago quarter.

In the third quarter, Novell derived $75m in revenues from directory-enabled applications, its most recent of which was the Single Sign-On application announced in July. Novell's goal is to grow its directory-enabled-application revenues 40 percent from year-to-year, officials said.

"i-Chain will begin to unfold before the end of the year," Chris Stone, senior vice president of corporate strategy and development, told financial analysts late Thursday.

Stone said i-Chain's goal is to move corporate directories from inside companies to outside the firewall, thereby providing a "business on the Net" infrastructure. I-Chain will provide a foundation for supply-chain, customer-relationship management and e-business applications, Stone said.

At the core of i-Chain will be two core Novell technologies: its already announced dirXML metadirectory technology, which is slated to ship early next year; and a forthcoming X.509-based certificate server. "We want to be the certificate-generator for the Internet," Stone said. "Customers are saying this is long overdue."

Additional Novell technologies which will fit into the i-Chain framework include a forthcoming crypto technology that Novell is planning to build into NDS, which it is calling NICCI (Novell International Crypto Interface). This will allow applications to be "imported and exported across the world," Novell officials said. Novell's digital-persona digitalme technology also will plug into the framework, company officials said, first in the form of some type of identity management servers, Novell executives said.

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