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Novell battles for intranets

Novell announces a packaged set of tools for the booming intranet market to keep pace with Microsoft and Netscape.

Clinging to the growth of Internet technologies, Novell officials unveiled a packaged set of tools for intranets meant to stave off encroachment from competitors, including Microsoft and Netscape Communications.

Steve Markman, Novell's executive vice president, said "our future is at stake" as he introduced the company's bundling of the NetWare 4.11 network operating system and various networking and intranet tools.

The announcement, made in the face of stiff competition for intranet dollars from Microsoft and Netscape, is significant for Novell after a long period of product consolidation and corporate reorganization.

Included in the intranet-focused package is NetWare 4.11, previously code-named Green River, along with a new Internet Access Server that will provide a secure gateway from Novell networks to the Internet. A multiprotocol router for a wide area network and Internet links is also part of the bundle.

The access server will also come with an enhanced Web server and applications for creating and managing Web sites.

"It's about time," said Rick Villars, an analyst with International Data Corporation, a consultancy based in Framingham, Massachusetts. "The Novell customer base has been needing this kind of technology."

In particular, Novell needed to satiate the appetites of its massive channel of resellers and distributors for intranet-related applications, even though the announcement reflects new packaging more than new products, Villars said.

The IntranetWare bundle will essentially replace NetWare as Novell's network operating system (NOS), according to company officials. The company, officials said, plans to focus on IntranetWare, NetWare Directory Services (NDS), the ManageWise systems management platform, and the GroupWise messaging software as the four key brands of the company.

GroupWise 5.0 will be unveiled at a September 12 event in New York with enhanced Web-based capabilities. ManageWise is also part of Novell's Internet push, with plans for Java-based management and access to ManageWise via a Web browser planned for next year.

Industry observers believe Novell's NOS dominance has waned, in part, because of questionable acquisitions such as UnixWare. By focusing on four core products, as well as Internet technologies, Novell officials believe they can recapture momentum lost to Microsoft's Windows NT.

"The Internet has a degree of chaos that prevents anyone from dominating," Novell's Markman said.

Company officials also outlined plans to manage NetWare and NT servers from within NDS, in an effort code-named "Tabasco," by the end of the year. Also expected at that time is an NDS version for NT. Officials also demonstrated a prototype technology similar to PointCast's screen saver that would be integrated with NDS.

IntranetWare is scheduled to be released this fall. Pricing and availability details will be released at the Networld+Interop trade show in Atlanta next month.

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