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Novell cozies up to open source

The networking-software company bets on open source and standards to build momentum for its operating systems and security software.

Networking-software company Novell on Monday gave details of plans to tighten its products' ties with open-source software.

At the company's annual Brainshare customer conference, Novell said it is bundling open-source software with its own commercial products, including its flagship NetWare operating system, and creating incentives to get open-source developers to use Novell software. Company executives also underscored Novell's commitment to incorporating Web services standards within its products, including the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) standard for locating Web services on a network.

NetWare 6.5, which will ship this summer, will be packaged with the open-source database MySQL and the open-source Apache Web server. The upcoming version of NetWare will also incorporate a Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) version 1.3 Java application server, which Novell acquired in its purchase of SilverStream Software last year. The packaging will make it easier to build business applications using NetWare and to share information with non-NetWare software, according to Novell executives.

In an effort to woo open-source developers, Novell launched on Monday the Novell Forge Web site and created a certification for developers who are expert in Novell software and the open-source Linux operating system.

The open-source push is part of Novell's strategy to entice developers to exploit its networking software, such as its security software, outside the company's installed base of NetWare customers. By providing close integration with open-source software, Novell says it intends to drive sales of its own products.

"Open source is gaining momentum in the market; customers want to leverage it," said Chris Stone, Novell vice chairman, office of the CEO, in a statement.

Novell, once a pioneer in corporate networks, has steadily lost market share in its core operating system business to Microsoft's Windows server operating systems. NetWare now represents about 11 percent of server operating systems sales, according to analysts.

To show its commitment to ongoing standards efforts, Novell said Monday it will release the code for its Nsure UDDI server software to the standards group that handles the UDDI standard. Novell's Nsure server is used to verify the identity of people as they log onto a network to access applications.

In the area of security, Novell announced two enhancements to its existing software, which extend support for emerging security standards.

The company is offering an early version of its eDirectory that uses the Liberty Alliance specification for authenticating a person's identity. The new product, formerly code-named Saturn, will allow a person to log once onto multiple Web sites that adhere to the Liberty standard.

In June, Novell will offer an upgrade to its iChain security management software, adding support for Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), an Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based standard for exchanging security information across different security servers.

Novell also released on Monday a set of tools called Novell Resource Management, which is designed to help administrators provision and manage equipment, including corporate PCs, servers and handhelds. The product is based on Novell's ZenWorks remote administration software.