After suffering a slow start in the Web server market, Novell is moving to update its core server technology into a family of products that will add support for electronic commerce, digital certificates, and multiple IP addresses to its basic HTTP server.
The company plans to re-release its Web server by the end of this year with an upgrade code-named Charlotte. The upgrade will serve as the foundation for other technologies that may be integrated or sold separately, though the company has not worked out marketing and packaging plans. "Charlotte is the core Web server technology," said John Linney, Novell product line manager. "We'll be exposing that functionality in different ways."
For example, Charlotte's new, more integrated Novell Directory Services will add support for the digital certificate, a kind of electronic passport that verifies the identity of the server when the user logs on. Charlotte will also let a single server maintain several sites and improve performance.
In addition, Novell has licensed OM-SecureLink technology from Open Market to provide security and encryption capabilities, as well as a back-end transaction management system. The company will also add an FTP server.
Charlotte technology will show up in future iterations of InnerWeb Publisher, the company's intranet publishing suite. "You'll see the new technology [in Charlotte] feeding through to all of our Web products," Linney said.
Novell hopes to update its Web server technology every six months and is already planning a post-Charlotte version, code-named Templeton, in early to mid-1997.
But despite the effort and resources that Novell is putting into its Web server technology, some analysts say it may still be chasing an impossible goal if it wants NetWare to compete as a platform with Web servers for Windows NT and Unix from Netscape Communications and Microsoft.
"Novell is caught in an interesting place," said Jamie Lewis, analyst and president of the Burton Group consultancy. "The special-purpose nature of the NetWare operating system doesn't make it the most attractive platform for customers wanting to use customized tools to build their own Internet-intranet solutions."
Separately today, Novell announced that it will make NetWare 4.1 services available on other platforms, including Windows NT and various flavors of Unix. With the Novell Cross-Platform Services source code, hardware manufacturers will be able to include NDS, NetWare File Services, NetWare Print Services, and scalable support for symmetric multiprocessing environments on their platforms.
SCO began shipping NetWare services on its UnixWare 2.1 in April. Novell has previously announced its intention to port NDS to Windows NT by 1997.