In an emerging battle to integrate information about a slew of network-attached devices into a central administrative software package, Novell may have scored a victory over Microsoft today with news of a directory services partnership with equipment giant Lucent Technologies.
Though Novell has made it clear it does not plan to directly compete against the Redmond, Washington-based software firm in the server-based operating system market, the company has stressed its technological lead in providing a key component of that software--directory services.
Novell is making a large bet that its directory services software, called NDS, can be a way for third-party companies and developers to tie into a host of information about network-based resources. Directories serve as "white pages" for a wide variety of information about users and computer systems.
"This is pretty significant for us and for directories as whole," according to Chris Stone, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development at Novell.
Lucent Technologies today announced that it has agreed to use Novell's directory software as a way to roll out policy management tools that address voice and data traffic in corporate networks, a Lucent spokesman said.
Microsoft is pushing its own directory services software, Active Directory, expected to be part of the forthcoming Windows NT 5.0, due sometime next year. The company has also embarked on ambitious plans with data networking kingpin Cisco Systems to integrate its Active Directory into Cisco's equipment and management tools.
Lucent said it plans to integrate Novell's directory services (NDS) into its corporate networking switch Cajun P550 by the first half of next year, essentially serving as a network "policy manager."
Lucent and Novell also agreed to collaborate in seeking industry-wide technical standards for building networks using products from different companies, a Lucent spokesman said.
Integrating NDS into the Cajun P550 switch is just the first step in implementing the Novell technology throughout the Lucent portfolio, the spokesman said.
Use of NDS feeds into a variety of recent competitive positioning between Cisco and Lucent as both firms eye each other's markets for growth. Novell said it has had discussions with Cisco to use NDS as well to no avail.
"We're pretty wide open to making that happen. It's pretty much up to Cisco," Stone said. "At this point, little progress has been made."
Cisco excutives could not immediately be reached for comment.