Novell's battle cry: Long live NetWare!

The file and print workhorse has a future, claims Big Red. Novell's updated goal: To make NetWare the best hosting operating system out there

Novell may be attempting to hitch a ride on the Net services bandwagon, but it isn't abandoning its operating system heritage in the process.

So proclaimed company executives intent on dispelling any notions that NetWare is dead. To prove the operating system is alive and kicking, Novell Tuesday officially unveiled its NetWare roadmap and talked up plans for NetWare 5.x and NetWare 6.

"In the past, we have thought like engineers -- ship a product and be done with it," said Jim Tanner, director of NetWare product management.

But in recent months, Novell has restaffed and rethought how to do product management, Tanner added.

"Our message is when you lead with what customers need, NetWare follows," Tanner said. "We're going after our installed base and telling them we've got more than just upgrades. We have a plan for you."

Such statements may not sound revolutionary, but for a company that's spent the past year undecided as to whether to distance itself from its file-and-print workhorse product, these are bold claims.

Novell has a new, four-point vision for NetWare. And it's all about storage, Tanner said.

When it comes to network operating systems, Novell will focus on:

  • making sure the Net experience goes wherever users are

  • understanding that location and type of storage is fast becoming irrelevant to customers

  • operating under the assumption that around-the-clock availability is driving corporations

  • behaving as if operating system purchases are now business, not technology, decisions.

Novell is attempting to position NetWare as "the most secure and reliable platform for hosting Net services", according to its roadmap.

"We're going to start talking up file and print again," Tanner said. "We have a $1bn business built around this. And we're adding to it, with storage and [server] consolidation."

To that end, Novell has a number of NetWare 5.x extensions in the works. This year, it expects to add an Internet Protocol enhancement pack and file protocol enhancement pack to its NetWare 5.1 lineup. A full NetWare 5.x refresh isn't due out until the third quarter of 2001, however.

On the NetWare 6 [codenamed Six Pack] front, Novell is targeting mid-2001 for its first release.

This will be the version of NetWare aimed squarely at the data centre, as it will include symmetric multiprocessing and clustering capabilities.

To make NetWare more customer and reseller-friendly, Novell is working up a number of NetWare 5.x deployment guides. It has defined 20 potential guides so far, and will deliver the first by the end of this year, Tanner said. The guides will include tools for planning, integration and deployment for NetWare and related third-party products.

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