Novell rolls out toys for the (old) boys

Despite an increased focus on services at the Brainshare conference, the company is not neglecting its Netware-trained engineers

Although Novell's main thrust of BrainShare announcements is away from products, the corporation didn't neglect its traditional Netware-trained engineers, announcing several new technological gadgets for them to play with -- including a method of updating all of a user's documents from anywhere on the Web, a big file store attachment, and wireless technology.

The iFolder product will be going into beta test shortly, prior to the launch (around September) of Netware 6.0. It's the bit of technology which senior Novell executives are most excited about here in Salt Lake City because it allows a user to keep track of key documents even when away from their normal PCs.

To quote the release: "Novell iFolder is the simple and secure way to organise, manage and access your files, anywhere, anytime." Jeff Hawkins, vice president of Novell's storage business team, enthused: "Whether you are working on your office or home PC, a disconnected notebook, or even at an Internet kiosk in an airport somewhere, your files are instantly available." If you are working offline, the work you do is updated the instant you reconnect. And when you move on to a different location and a different PC, your files are automatically updated to reflect the work you did elsewhere, with no file transfers required.

Hawkins didn't offer any suggestion about how smaller enterprises might be able to take advantage of this technology, if they didn't have access to an expert Netware engineer.

As for storage, several large suppliers of network-attached storage products have chosen to support most popular operating systems, but have not seen any urgency in supporting NDS directories. Novell has stepped into the breach, with the launch its own NAS box: the Novell Network Storage Appliance, "a network attached storage (NAS) device that possesses the entire Novell portfolio of robust file system technologies, security, manageability and reliability."

Pricing will be announced shortly before the first product ships, with only "summer" offered as a clue to when that might be. This means that there is no real pressure on any rival NAS builders to respond in the short term by supporting NDS themselves -- at least, not until they see whether the market responds to the product. It also leaves Novell's product at least 18 months to two years behind the bulk of the market.

One product which will be eagerly scrutinised by Netware users when it appears, will be Novell Internet Printing which will be part of NetWare 6 when it ships later this year.

Novell Internet Printing uses IPP (Internet Printing Protocol), the Web browser and Web technology to give users simple and secure access to printers that may be located anywhere in the world. Because it is built on NDPS, there is no need for users to purchase IPP printers. Novell Internet Printing transforms an NDPS printer into an IPP printer and gives it a presence on the Net.

Users simply access a list of printers via a Web browser and click on the printer they want.

Finally, much to the surprise of many who assumed that Novell already had such a product, the company introduced Novell Single Sign-on 2.1 with v-GO* technology from Passlogix.

This is simply password management software to help organisations ensure their key information is protected while significantly reducing help desk costs.

"With enterprises currently spending hundreds of dollars per user every year on password management, the Novell Single Sign-on Bundle, at $49 per user, provides a quick return on investment. We estimate that a 10,000 person organisation with the average employee requirement to access five+ password-protected applications would expect to save more than $12m (about £8m) over three years, with a return on investment in six months," said a company publicity official.

For complete business coverage, see ZDNet UK's Enterprise Channel.

Remember the launch of OS/2 Warp? Guy Kewney thinks that maybe it's how we will also remember this year's BrainShare. He says the parallels between NetWare with OS/2 in its revivalist days are striking. Go to AnchorDesk UK for the news comment.

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