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Novell sings backup for PDAs

The networking company's iFolder will now provide networked storage for data on PDAs, but the company still has to link its PDA-management product with its directory.

Networking company Novell is focusing on mobile technology at this year's CeBit show in Hannover, Germany.

The company announced that its iFolder Internet-based storage product will now support Windows CE- and Palm-based devices, and it launched a PDA-management product.

iFolder was first introduced in NetWare version 6, the most recent version of Novell's network operating system. All iFolder users have some storage on the corporate network and can synchronize it with an identical folder on any system they use.

The new version of iFolder includes clients for Windows CE and Palm, so users can synchronize their iFolder to their PDA (personal digital assistant). This gives them another option to restore data when a PDA is lost or stolen, said Jeff Hawkins, Novell's vice president of storage services.

"Your electronic bags are always packed," he said. It also lets information-technology managers 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 name. It is in fact the latest version of Orbiter, a PDA management product from Callisto Software, which Novell bought in November last year. It is not yet integrated with eDirectory, Novell's 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 in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, "We only just acquired the company in November, and they are best of breed in that space." He pointed out that the product does distribute software and keeps an inventory of what is on a company's PDAs, and it can easily reconfigure a device for another customer when required. Full integration with Novell's eDirectory is planned for the summer.

In the meantime, Joseph said Novell is heading for a much-needed corporate rejuvenation. Veteran Novell leader Chris Stone is back in the driving seat. Stone left three years ago to found a supply-chain management company called Tilion. He returned last month.

Peter Judge reported from London.