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Novell making big play

As part of the company's revised focus, Novell plans to release new technologies that add a series of industrial-strength software features.

Network software provider Novell plans to beef up a prime component of its software technology to make it more palatable for high-end needs.

The company is hoping a key underlying service of its NetWare operating system can drive sales of associated applications and interest in developing for Novell's software. The technology--known as Novell Directory Services, or NDS--had been the linchpin in a company strategy to revitalize itself.

As part of the company's revised focus, Novell plans to release new technologies for NDS that add a series of industrial-strength features targeted for some of its high-end service provider (ISP) and carrier customers, such as AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and Singapore Telecommunications.

Though no packaging details have been released, the series of enhancements--code-named "SCADS," for Scalable Directory Services--is likely to be packaged as a separate version of the software, sources said. Novell executives refused to discuss the specifics of the SCADS project, but said the ISP niche represents a different opportunity from the company's traditional corporate bent, so its software needs to be altered accordingly.

"ISP needs are a little bit different than corporate needs," said Michael Simpson, director of marketing for Novell's network services group. "One thing we're doing is dramatically improving the scalability of NDS."

In addition, Novell plans to offer a high-end messaging system, code-named Liberty, on top of this ISP-focused version of NDS, according to sources, another example of the company's strategy to entice interest in NDS through application development.

Liberty will likely target the market for ISP-based outsourcing of messaging software functions, as well the increased demand to unify various forms of communications, such as voice mail, email, and faxing.

"The company needs to continue to seed the market for the directory," said Joel Achramowicz, financial analyst with Preferred Capital Investments.

The company said 88 percent of its revenue for its most recent quarter was related to products that include or take advantage of NDS.

Novell has attempted to spread the NDS gospel far and wide. The company has already 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 recruited networking equipment providers Lucent Technologies, Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks to support NDS. And it has added the likes of Big Blue subsidiary Tivoli Systems and PeopleSoft to the list of third parties that plan to integrate with NDS.

"They're getting this out into the marketplace," noted Jean Bozman, software analyst with International Data Corporation.

Details concerning the SCADS project and Liberty are likely to be released at the company's annual user conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, scheduled for later this month.