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Novell adds to BorderManager

The company releases more details on the technology it says will speed Web page viewing and ease network access management.

Novell (NOVL) released more details today on promised technology to speed Web page viewing and ease network access management.

The company--which is attempting to counteract a slew of bad news that has recently included IBM takeover rumors--hopes the new technology will offer proof of a long-discussed focus on Internet-based products under the guidance of CEO Eric Schmidt.

The two new software tools--FastCache and Authentication Service--are part of an overarching new product family called BorderManager that aspires to take advantage of a network's power and breadth. The suite essentially allows network managers to transfer information over the Internet or internal intranet quickly and securely.

An underlying tit-for-tat may also play into the company's rollout, which occurred at an event in New York. Novell is blowing its horn before the expected deluge of Microsoft coverage next week during its Professional Developer's Conference in San Diego. Officials said they are more concerned with turning around a company that has experienced a slew of bad financial news in recent quarters, despite deep pockets and a billion-dollar presence in the market.

FastCache, due to ship in November, takes popular Web pages used by an organization and stores them close to where they are being accessed, essentially acting as a proxy server. The software also updates the content of the pages as needed, without redundant downloads of information, and includes cache acceleration features. Additionally, a network manager can build a cache hierarchy using the software. No pricing information was announced with the new software.

The concept is becoming popular in some circles, with various network-oriented players choosing cache technology to alleviate the strain on other elements of a network. Cisco Systems recently released a hardware and software package that it hopes will alleviate some of the Web-based traffic on its routers.

The FastCache tool will allow the company to sell server bundles based on the technology with third-party hardware providers, according to John Slitz, Novell's new senior vice president of corporate marketing. Those OEMs will be announced soon, he said.

One advantage of the FastCache software is that it enables Web server farms to be reduced because of the performance gains of cache technology, according to Patrick Harr, product manager for BorderManager. Within Novell, a server farm for the company's Web site was reduced from 30 to six servers after the FastCache tool was installed.

Another piece of software that will be available early next year, Authentication Service, builds on previously announced support for RADIUS, a standard for secure remote connections across the Net. The new tools ties into Novell Directory Services (NDS), offering a platform for authentication of remote users. The new capabilities add support for third-party network equipment, such as hardware from giants Ascend Communications and Cisco Systems, among others.

Novell officials also recently discussed its efforts in the Java arena, an area that will likely drive future product development given former Sun guru Schmidt's presence at the company. As part of its Internet push, the purported "write once, run anywhere" programming language is expected to play a prominent role because of its ease of use for programmers. But executives say they will go beyond simple support for the language.

"So it's written in Java--that doesn't make it magic. We want to provide the services that enable Java," said Dave Clare, Novell's senior director of product management in the company's Java technologies group. "We believe that the network server area of Java is immature and needs to be addressed. That's where you'll see Novell focusing its efforts. We're pretty excited by this new opportunity."