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Novell update intended to simplify Web logins, networks

The company announces an update to its directory software, designed to make it easier to store and retrieve login names, passwords and other user information.

LAS VEGAS--Novell aims to untangle the Web, according to chief executive Eric Schmidt.

Speaking at a trade show here, Schmidt today announced an update to Novell's directory software that's intended to simplify the Web experience. A directory serves as a central repository for information concerning users, systems and network devices.

The constant pitfalls of surfing are all too familiar, Schmidt said. Consumers face the hassle of trying to remember login names and passwords, while businesses find it difficult to link their employees, suppliers and partners together and manage those relationships. Novell hopes networks will adopt its technology with the goal of making it easier to store and retrieve that information.

Novell, once struggling in the shadow of Microsoft, is attempting to make a comeback with its directory software technology as a strategic centerpiece. The company believes its directory can become a central information database for software developers to rely on.

Schmidt demonstrated how the technology works during his speech: With the update, the company's previously announced DigitalMe service allows Web portals, e-commerce firms and Internet service providers to let consumers control how their personal information is shared, used and maintained on the Net via a link to Novell's directory, or NDS.

"It's the holy grail that the networking CIO [chief information officer] is trying to achieve," Schmidt said.

In addition to the Internet-based directory update, called eDirectory, Novell released its NDS corporate edition for managing user information. The company also announced Net Publisher, which helps businesses manage the publication of content over the Web.

The eDirectory--based on previously released NDS version 8 technology--supports the NetWare, Microsoft Windows NT and Sun Microsystems Solaris operating systems. In the future, the directory also will support Linux, Compaq Tru64 and Windows 2000, the company said.

The release of eDirectory will lead to several product introductions over the next several months, according to Schmidt.

Novell further announced two dozen partnerships, including AltaVista, BroadVision, Sun Microsystems, PeopleSoft and Oblix, which are either using the technology in their businesses are building the technology into their products. Novell wants to encourage corporations to rely on its directory, so that businesses come to use its central administrative database regardless of the operating system they are using.

"It's key to manage the information of users, to authenticate users on what kinds of information they have access to, and to provide single administration," said Eric Golin, chief technology officer of Broadvision, during a press conference today.

Novell executives are launching several promotions to market eDirectory. Independent software vendors can download a 100-user version of eDirectory and bundle it in its own applications.