Tech Industry

Novell pushes Web services standards

The maker of networking software releases a new technology specification that ties directory services software closer to emerging Web services tools.

Networking-software provider Novell released a new technology specification Wednesday that ties directory services software closer to emerging Web services tools.

The Provo, Utah-based company said it has submitted a method to tie an important underlying standard for Web services, called Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI), to a significant existing technology for directory services software, called Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP).

Directory software--one of Novell's few competitive strengths--is essentially a database of information on computer users, software, systems and network-attached devices such as printers, within a company. It allows a network manager or Web site operator to create extensive personal profiles of visitors or customers.

UDDI directories serve a similar function for Web services. Such directories are used on a corporate network to list Web services available to other programs or--through public directories run by SAP, IBM, Microsoft and others--Web services available via the Internet.

Novell's technology submission covers how UDDI-based data can be stored in an LDAP-based directory services database, according to the company.

The submission Wednesday is part of an effort by Novell to play a greater role in the expected market for Web services technology. The much-hyped Web services trend allows businesses with different computing systems to more easily interact and conduct transactions. Microsoft is duking it out with traditional rivals such as Sun and IBM for large roles in shaping Web services technology, as exemplified by the Redmond, Wash.-based company's .Net strategy.

Novell's specification was submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a technology standards body.

Novell has a large base of customers for its directory services product called eDirectory. The company recently said its eDirectory had surpassed 420 million user licenses worldwide. Novell's primary rival in directory software, Microsoft, does not break out usage of its Active Directory software, which is part of its Windows 2000 Server operating system.

Novell's eDirectory also competes with directory services software from Sun Microsystems. Sun plans to soon add features to its Solaris operating system.

Directories are sold largely in conjunction with specific operating systems, though Novell has tried to expand the use of its technology by supporting rival operating systems, such as Microsoft's Windows 2000 and Linux, among others.