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Novell highlights NDS, Internet plans

The company discloses plans to extend the functions of its core strategic Novell Directory Services technology and promotes its plans for the Internet during a speech by chief executive Eric Schmidt.

LAS VEGAS---Software maker Novell is among friends.

The network-focused creator of the NetWare operating system and related tools released new software, disclosed plans to extend the functions of its core strategic Novell Directory Services, or NDS, technology, and promoted its plans for the Internet during a speech by chief executive Eric Schmidt here during this week's Networld+Interop industry trade show.

Highlighting the company's push here, among thousands of network managers, are plans to extend its NDS technology so it can serve as a so-called over-arching software layer that can connect and synchronize different databases and directories of information housed on a network. The effort, dubbed internally Virtual Replica, will result in a product by the end of this year, according to company executives.

A product in this area would vie in a niche dominated by smaller firms, such as Isocor and Zoomit.

"The next natural progression for us is to provide that kind of capability," said Chris Stone, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development for Novell. "Yes, we'll be in that space."

The technology would build on a basic interoperability method espoused by the industry, called LDAP, for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. Stone said he believes the future of development for NDS and directories as a whole will move far beyond its capabilities, which essentially consists of providing access between various software systems.

The problem Virtual Replica would address, according to Stone, is the coordination and management of a wider set of information from a variety of applications in which data is stored.

"We certainly aspire to be that hub directory," said Samm DiStasio, director of marketing for NDS. "We are working on extending that."

Novell's plans could put it at odds with an emerging strategy from IBM, which rolled out new technology and services that link its directory software with connection and security-oriented tools. The company's SecureWay Software is intended to link Big Blue's operating systems, as well as Linux and Microsoft's Windows NT, together.

The company will initially focus on a set of consulting services in order to spur wider use of directory software, according to Jeffrey Jaffe, general manager of IBM's SecureWay business unit. Much of the effort is based on the company's sprawling array of existing software.

Separately, Novell released a repackaged piece of management software so that branch offices can manage Windows NT desktops and server systems as well as NetWare computers. The BranchManager for NT suite includes a copy of NDS for NT 2.01, which is based on the Internet protocol (IP), the Zenworks 1.1 desktop management suite and ManageWise management agent for Windows 2.6, and BorderManager's Authentication Services 3.0. It is available now.

The company also released an upgrade to its directory this week, as previously reported. In addition, it disclosed plans for future versions of its NetWare operating system, as previously reported.

Telecom equipment giant Lucent Technologies also expanded its support of Novell's directory, adding its Definity set of voice switching products to the equipment that will inter-operate with Novell's software.

Also, Novell's Schmidt gave a familiar pitch concerning directory software's central role in organizing the Internet to a half-filled hall, highlighting the potential for a more organized corporate network and Web. "The death of distance really is upon us," said the Novell chief. "Complexity on the server, complete mobility for the user."

While at the show, Schmidt dispelled the notion he would leave Novell for computer giant Hewlett-Packard. He had been rumored to be a candidate.