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Novell aims directory update at high end

With a beefed up version of its enterprise directory, Novell is setting its sights on scaling to meet the needs of Internet-based business.

With a beefed up version of its enterprise directory, Novell is setting its sights on scaling to meet the needs of Internet-based business.

Novell DirectoryService V8, code-named Scaleable Directory Services (SCADS), is the latest update to a key part of the Provo, Utah-based firm's NetWare operating system. With the scalability of NDS V8, Novell is expanding potential business targets to include Internet Service Providers and telecommunications carriers, as well as large enterprises building supply chain strategies with their distributors and suppliers.

A license to use an open beta version of NDS V8 is available to existing NetWare 5 customers at the company's Web site company executives said at a press conference held today. An exact shipping date for NDS V8 for Windows NT and Sun Solaris users will be determined after the company gauges how well the beta testing goes, said Novell's product marketing manager for NDS, Paul Corriveau. Pricing has not been determined, he said.

The firm's newly targeted niche represents a departure from the traditional corporate customer. To accomodate ISPs and carriers, Novell's latest NDS release has been updated to securely store an infinite number of entries from customers and business partners, executives said.

"It's a huge push forward?a huge push in the right direction," Corriveau said. "We've really aligned the company to play in this space."

Using NDS V8, an ISP or carrier can avoid the prohibitive expense of using multiple directories, he said. Proving Novell is committed to open standards, Corriveau said NDS V8 also supports the latest version of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), allowing interoperability with other LDAP-based directories and applications. NDS V8 will also support LDAP Data Interchange Format (LDIF), an emerging Internet standard for importing objects into an LDAP directory.

At its annual BrainShare '99 conference later this month, the Provo-based firm is expected to demonstrate that NDS V8 can handle 1 billion entries. While the existing version of NDS can handle 500 million entries, the updated version is equipped to manage more than five times the number of users on the Internet today, said Chris Stone, Novell's senior vice president for strategy and corporate development.

To date, Novell has signed up a total of six large ISPs and telcos and 50 million users of NDS. More than 400 NDS-enabled products are currently available from third-party vendors. About 80 percent of large companies currently using directory services to manage and secure their networks use NDS, according to a recent report by Framingham, Massachusetts-based International Data Corporation (IDC).

The company said 88 percent of its revenue for its last fiscal quarter was related to products that include or take advantage of NDS. Still, NDS will face stiff competition from Microsoft with Active Directory, which is due out early next year, and from Netscape's directory server, which has wide support and is used with the company's Web and e-commerce systems. Also, Oracle last week unveiled the higly-scalable Oracle Internet Directory, based on the Oracle8i database.

In recent months, Novell has been busy building momentum for NDS. The company has completed a version of NDS that can reside on top of a Windows NT-based system as well as another for the Solaris version of Unix from Sun Microsystems. It also has plans to integrate with OS/390 mainframe software from IBM, a Unix version built by Hewlett-Packard and a Linux offering from Caldera.

Novell has also signed on networking equipment providers Lucent Technology, Cisco Systems, and Nortel Networks to support NDS. And it has added IBM subsidiary Tivoli Systems and PeopleSoft to the list of third parties that plan to integrate with NDS.

Sources say Novell also plans to offer a high-end messaging system, code-named Liberty, on top of this ISP-focused version of NDS, another example of the company's strategy to draw interest in NDS through application development.