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Novell lures 3Com to support directory services software

The alliance signals another stepping stone in Novell's strategy to entice an army of networking and application software developers to build on its directory service.

Novell's directory services continues to draw support from industry heavyweights.

3Com today announced an agreement with Novell to support its directory services software called NDS, giving the directory needed backing from another large networking firm. The move serves as another stepping stone in Novell's strategy to entice an army of networking and application software developers to build on its directory service.

3Com joins a slew of other industry giants who have thrown their weight behind NDS, including the likes of Nortel Networks and Lucent Technologies. Cisco Systems has also pledged to integrate with Novell's software.

Directory software essentially provides a network manager with a central database to store information about users, systems and networking devices. As more applications are written to take advantage of its directory, Novell executives hope a wider array of uses will be found for the software.

The deal between 3Com and Novell is expected to focus on user-based technology and network access technology, and ensures that 3Com customers will use NDS, the company said.

"This certainly helps Novell," said Dwight Davis, an analyst with Summit Strategies. "3Com is a notable partner to have on board, but I wouldn't read too much into it. NDS and Microsoft's Active Directory will be around for some time. A lot of players will add their support to both along the way. But this certainly is a plus for Novell. 'The more, the merrier.' "

Novell competes against Microsoft in the directory software space. The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant is pushing its own directory services software, Active Directory, which is part of Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 2000 operating system release.

In addition to the user-based policy management capabilities enabled by the NDS "eDirectory," 3Com said the software's access control services will help enhance network security. Planned for a future release of 3Com's Transcend policy management system, this capability will authenticate users before they are allowed access to their corporate network.

3Com said it plans to demonstrate the Transcend policy management system using NDS for user-based management applications at the ComNet Expo 2000 industry trade show in Washington, D.C., this week.