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Novell tweaks management tools

An asset management tool and slicker ZenWorks administration are on tap. Also: an expanded deal with JBoss for Web portals.

Novell offered a peek at its forthcoming management products on Wednesday, including an inventory tool it's gaining through a newly announced acquisition.

Executives gave a demonstration of the forthcoming inventory, or asset management, product at the company's BrainShare conference in Salt Lake City. Novell is gaining the product through its purchase of Tally Systems, announced Wednesday at the conference. The software allows administrators to get an accurate inventory of devices on a company network and to better track software licenses, Novell said.


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The company declined to say when the asset management tool will be available or what its price will be. The product will be part of Novell's ZenWorks suite.

The next major revision of the suite, version 7, will be available around the middle of the year. The Linux edition of version 7 will sport a streamlined user interface designed to help administrators perform common tasks such as provisioning a person to a network database, company executives said.

The enhancements of the Linux edition will be added to the Windows and NetWare versions in the future, said David Litwack, Novell's senior vice president and general manager for identity services.

Novell engineers have improved the company's identity management capabilities as well. The company has built a tool, based on the Eclipse open-source development framework, that enables administrators to get a view of several network directories at once.

Network administrators can view and modify network policies, such as security rules, and use the program to get an audit on past management activities.

The Eclipse tool is available as a beta and will be built into the next major upgrade of the company's Nsure Identity Manager, Litwack said.

JBoss connection
Also on Tuesday, Novell detailed plans incorporate more open-source technologies into Extend, its Java server software line. The Extend suite, acquired from SilverStream in 2002, includes an application server, portal and workflow software.

Novell has also tightened its relationship with JBoss, which sells a suite of server products for building and running Java business applications. The expanded partnership calls for Novell to provide services to corporate customers around the JBoss Portal. Novell will also enhance the Web portal software through its own contributions to the open-source product.

Novell already provides support services for the JBoss Java application server. But the new agreement between the two companies will allow Novell to provide services around more of JBoss' server suite of open-source software, called the Java Enterprise Middleware System, or JEMS.

When asked about the JBoss partnership, Litwack reiterated Novell's belief that open-source software will gradually spread into areas now dominated by proprietary software.

"As technology standards mature and commodify, the waterline rises. The application server has been there for some time," Litwack said.

Novell intends to submit its implementation of a Web portal standard, called Web Services Remote Portlets, to the JBoss Portal product.

Novell also said Wednesday that it plans to open the Novell Open Source Technology Center in the third quarter. The facility at the company's Provo, Utah, center is meant to encourage the creation of software companies around open-source products.