Following a similar bundling of NDS by the Santa Cruz Operation operating system that is now shipping, HP plans to deliver the directory for free within its HP-UX Unix system by this fall, according to company officials.
Novell is attempting to gain a foothold in a wider variety of networks by offering the base NDS platform to third parties for free.
A directory service is an important part of a network because it acts as an address book for all attached users and offers a single point for administrators to configure security and application access.
"It's a service layer for an entire network," said Tom Arthur, vice president and general manager of Novell's Internet Infrastructure Division, at an Internet World press conference.
Novell plans to deliver NDS on Windows NT in a product code-named Tabasco this summer. Add-on services for NDS, code-named ScalePack, will include replication and synchronization features that work between directories. Novell plans to make money on NDS through the ScalePack features.
Sun Microsystems also plans to bundle NDS with its Solaris Unix-based operating system. Industry watchers speculate that IBM will also bundle the system, but the company has made no public statements to confirm it.
Novell is giving NDS a prominent role in Internet World activities. On Tuesday, the company announced support for a new Java-based Naming and Directory Interface (JNDI) that will be delivered by JavaSoft, a division of Sun. The interface will allow developers to create applications that work across directories, since the Java programming language works across multiple platforms.