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Novell targets messaging with new mail server

With the growth in Web portals and application hosting, Novell is eyeing the Internet service provider messaging market with a new mail server.

With the growth in Web portals and application hosting, Novell is eyeing the Internet service provider messaging market with a new mail server.

Next month, the company will ship the Novell Internet Messaging System (NIMS), formerly code-named Liberty, a messaging server tailored to ISPs. The server takes advantage of the company's Novell Directory Service (NDS) software to offer ISPs a messaging server for deploying Web email, and programmability options that allow ISPs to create custom message applications, as well as implementing mail ad insertions, the company said.

With the onslaught and popularity of Web portals, the Internet has become a central location for people to access aggregate and personal information. Companies like Netscape and Sun Microsystems, under the Sun-Netscape Alliance, and Lotus Development offer Web-based applications that organize task management, Web email, address books, and calendar information in their enterprise products. Sun and Netscape have made some efforts to sell their products to ISPs as well.

As earlier reported, Microsoft is planning to meld its Microsoft Commercial Internet System suite of Internet-based server applications, which includes Internet access and Web e-commerce software, into the next version of its Exchange messaging server, called Platinum.

Although the hot-topic in the ISP market is unified messaging, Tracey Thayne, a product manager at Novell, said NIMS is a straight email product. "It's just high performance email. We are considering all the other options out there. As ISP offerings become more complex, ISPs will require this in the future."

Thayne said NIMS is now in testing at several ISP sites. Pricing has not been determined, he said.

But just offering a straight messaging system might not be enough to cut the mustard in the rapidly maturing ISP messaging system market.

"There's a large opportunity out there, but Novell has no reputation in this field," said Jonathan Penn, an analyst with Giga Information Group. "They have a long way to go before they reach the Sun-Netscape level. Novell is trying to branch out, but I see it as a 'me too' product," Penn said.

Thayne said the new server's integration with NDS gives Novell a technological edge on competitors. "We do see [email] as a mature market," said Thayne. NIMS is unique because it "is based on NDS. This is perfect for deploying other directory driven applications," like "single point administration, allowing for central management."

Novell will first ship the new product to its customers in the education market in mid-July. The company said messaging demand on a single system at schools compares to that of a small ISP. A general ISP version will ship later in the year, Thayne said.