Novell makes mobile play at CeBIT

Novell's iFolder networked-storage product now works with PDAs, but the company still has loose ends to tie up linking its PDA management product with its directory

The main CeBIT announcements from networking warhorse Novell are aimed at users of mobile technology. The company has added Windows CE and Palm to the devices supported by its iFolder Internet-based storage product, and launched a PDA-management product in its ZENworks family. IFolder was first introduced in NetWare version 6, the most recent version of Novell's network operating system. Each iFolder user has some storage on the corporate network, and can synchronise it with an identical folder on any system he or she uses. This synchronisation is very quick, with the exchange of a four-byte file telling the system whether to update the file or not. The new version of iFolder includes clients for Windows CE and Palm, so users can synchronise their iFolder to their PDA -- the answer to the big problem of people dropping their mobile devices, or having them stolen, according to Jeff Hawkins, Novell's vice president of storage services. "Your electronic bags are always packed," he said. It also allows IT managers to put the server on Linux or Solaris boxes, instead of NetWare or Windows 2000, if they like, and gives them escrow access to user keys in this version. Novell's other new product, ZENworks for Handhelds version 4.7, is only part of ZENworks by branding. It is in fact the latest version of Orbiter, a PDA management product from Callisto, which Novell bought in November last year. So far it is not integrated with Novell's eDirectory directory services software, which makes it "about as much use as a chocolate teapot," according to Clive Longbottom, service director at analyst firm Quocirca. But, said Peter Joseph, Novell's director of corporate strategy, EMEA, "We only just acquired the company in November and they are best of breed in that space." The product does distribute software and keeps an inventory of what is on a company's PDAs, and can easily reconfigure a device for another user when required, he pointed out. Full integration with Novell's eDirectory is planned for the summer. Meanwhile, Novell itself is heading for a much-needed corporate rejuvenation according to Joseph, with veteran Novell leader Chris Stone back in the driving seat. Stone left three years ago to found a supply-chain management company called Tilion, but returned last month.


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