Web software for Novell

Next month, start-up Novonyx tests its first fruits--Netscape Communications' Web software for use on Novell's NetWare operating system.

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Netscape Communications' (NSCP) Web software will enter beta testing on Novell's NetWare operating system next month, possibly giving Novell's (NOVL) Internet strategy a much-needed boost.

The product also represents the first fruits of Novonyx, a spin-off company funded by Novell and Netscape to port the popular Web servers to Novell's operating system. Novonyx was founded in June of this year and currently boasts about 40 employees.

Novell has been criticized for its slow adoption of Internet standards. Industry observers said the company is addressing a large installed base that is looking frantically for Web software for the Novell OS. Despite encroachment from Microsoft Windows NT, Novell still has the most customers running its server-based OS.

Novonyx said it hopes to fill the void by releasing Netscape's Enterprise Server, Messaging Server, and FastTrack server by the end of the year. Robert Hicks, president and chief executive officer of Novonyx, said, "If you look at the overall market size, it's enormous."

Various market research firms have estimated that about 55 to 60 million users are connecting to NetWare-based servers. Novonyx research indicates about 60 percent of Novell customers would be very likely or somewhat likely to purchase Netscape products for NetWare when they are offered.

The software will only work on NetWare versions 4.0 and greater, leaving out a large base of customers who still work with NetWare 3.0 and earlier versions. But Novonyx said the users who are moving toward implementing Web-based software are also migrating to more recent versions of NetWare.

The Netscape software essentially works as an NLM, or NetWare Loadable Module, on top of the NetWare OS. Novonyx said it hopes porting the software will allow users to develop Web-based applications. Through integration of the Netscape servers, Novell users will gain access to JavaScript as a programming tool.

The underlying tenets of the Novonyx arrangement allow the company to peruse Netscape's source code during the software integration process while taking advantage of the gigantic Novell reseller channel for sales of its products. The new Netscape servers will also be tied to NDS, Novell's Directory Services.

In conjunction with the announcement of next month's beta release, Novonyx also announced a partnership with Oracle to provide the company's database with the Netscape Enterprise Pro suite of software for NetWare. Netscape has stratified its software packages into "standard" and "professional" editions.

Analysts said the port of Netscape's popular Web serving software is a no-brainer, given Novell's large installed base and the move to Internet and intranet-based network systems.

Jamie Lewis, president of consulting firm the Burton Group, said, "It's reasonable to assume that Novonyx can sell a lot of SuiteSpot to IntranetWare customers through the Novell channel. I think it helps Novell to be able to point to a leading company like Netscape and say it's on IntranetWare."

"Novell wanted these products on its platform and it was willing to do what it takes to get them there," he said.

Novonyx will wrap up the porting of the Netscape SuiteSpot product next year when it provides versions of the Calendar, Collabra, and Proxy servers by the middle of the year and the Certificate and Compass servers by year's end.

Prices for the Netscape servers were not announced, but Novonyx said costs would be comparable to the cost of SuiteSpot software.