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Sun shines on Novell

SunSoft and Novell announce cross-licensing deal for directory services, Java development tools.

Novell's (NOVL) directory services will soon see rays of Sun.

As previously reported by CNET, Novell announced today that it has licensed its Novell Directory Services (NDS) technology to SunSoft, Sun Microsystems' software subsidiary, for use with its Solaris Unix operating environment. In exchange, Novell will license SunSoft's Java Workshop development environment, Java's just-in-time (JIT) compiler, and WebNFS, for use with its NetWare NFS client.

For SunSoft, the deal means Solaris will gain an advanced directory service that Novell hopes will be the de facto technology for the Internet age. A directory service is like an address book that allows users to communicate over a network without having to know complicated user addresses.

"There is a lot of customer demand right now for connecting systems from one end to the other [and NDS accomplishes this,]" said Brian Croll, director of marketing for Solaris server.

Novell, on the other hand, gains another huge platform for NDS as well as important Java development tools that will make it easier for long-suffering Novell developers to write applications for NetWare and the recently announced IntranetWare platforms.

SunSoft wouldn't set out a specific timetable for NDS on Solaris other than to say it will appear sometime in 1997. The Santa Cruz Operation has already ported NDS to its OpenServer brand of Unix and Hewlett-Packard is currently beta-testing NDS for its HP-UX version of Unix.

"It's a good thing, it's a continuation of a strategy they started last year [with the HP and SCO integration]," said Dave Cappuccio, an analyst with the Gartner Group market research firm.

Underpinning the NDS announcements and Novell's newfound friendship with SunSoft is the desire by the two companies to subvert rival Microsoft on two fronts: directory services and file system protocols for the Web.

Though Microsoft's current Windows NT 4.0 directory pales in comparison to the capabilities of NDS, NT 5.0 will include Active Directory, a multidomain and cross-platform directory service that is expected to close the gap. Microsoft has also unveiled its own protocol for file sharing over the Web, known as the Common Internet File System, which is competing with WebNFS.

Cappuccio said Novell would have been better served by offering NDS to third parties earlier. "They should have announced this three years ago," he commented.

WebNFS is expected to gain momentum soon when Netscape Communications endorses WebNFS. Novell's use of WebNFS will allow any WebNFS-enabled client or browser to access information on any NetWare WebNFS server.

Novell will distribute Java Workshop to its developers starting in December and plans to incorporate future Java development tool releases in the next version of IntranetWare. The JIT compiler allows Java applications to be executed quickly and will be integrated into Novell's IntranetWare Software Developer's Kit for Java.