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Compaq strikes directory-services deal

The computer maker says it entered into an alliance with Novell that will provide the company with sorely needed directory services for its version of Unix.

Compaq Computer entered into an alliance with Novell today that will provide them will sorely needed directory services.

Compaq announced it would add Novell's directory services to its Tru64 Unix, putting it more on par with other flavors of Unix and offering uniform system management across platforms. Tru64 Unix is Compaq's version of a Unix operating system.

Directory services are important tools for managing large numbers of servers and client PCs on corporate networks. They are particularly important for administering large numbers of computers in multiple offices or geographic locations and monitoring network traffic and security.

Novell today agreed to port its directory services to Tru64 Unix, with expected delivery some time in the first half of 2000.

Compaq also committed to offer better Novell Directory Services (NDS) support on its ProLiant and ProSignia servers, Deskpro corporate PCs and Professional Workstations. Compaq primarily offers Windows NT on these platforms.

By offering NDS across multiple disparate platforms, Compaq hopes to offer customers a more consistent management solution.

Enrico Pesatori, senior vice president of Compaq's Enterprise Solutions and Services Group, touted the importance of the Novell agreement to the Compaq's eBusiness solutions strategy.

"It is about having an infrastructure that can grow with your business at Internet speed without breaking your bank--or your IT department," said Pesatori. "The key element of that infrastructure is network security that allows you do business with the external world," he said.

The agreement, more than a year-and-a-half in planning, also includes partnering on consulting and services.

The strategic alignment solves problems for both Compaq and Novell.

"It's a win-win for both companies," said Lindy Lesperance, analyst with Technology Business Research. "The Tru64 platform needed a directory service, and Novell needs to get as many other manufacturers to sign on as possible because of Windows 2000."

Windows 2000 poses a threat to Novell's core business, because Microsoft will introduce its own directory service with the business-oriented operating system. Microsoft expects to release Windows 2000 to PC manufacturers by the end of the year.

The agreement also plugs an important hole in NDS' platform support. "Our customers are deploying NDS broadly, but they are complaining that they do not have NDS on everything," said Dr. Eric Schmidt, Novell?s chairman and chief executive officer.

By adding Tru64 Unix, Novell can offer a wider range of e-commerce solutions to its customers, said Schmidt.

NDS is also available for NetWare, Windows NT, IBM OS390, Linux and Sun Solaris.

The timing is important for Compaq as it faces increasing pressure to demonstrate it is fully behind Tru64 Unix and Alpha, the processor supporting Unix servers.

Compaq's commitment to the Alpha processor recently came under fire after it joined Microsoft in pulling the plug on Windows 2000 development for the processor.

But Compaq also faces challenges that could nullify some of the NDS' benefits. Project Monterey, a next-generation Unix developed by IBM, SCO and Sequent for the Merced microprocessor, is due next year. Monterey is expected to become the highest volume version of Unix, drawing on the install base of SCO UnixWare .