With Novell's effort to become a supplier of operating system-independent network services based on Novell Directory Services (NDS) well underway, the company is starting to turn its attention to the next phase of its reinvention under the leadership of company president Eric Schmidt.
During the next six months, Novell will make significant moves intended to further promote network directory-based applications in areas such as Internet commerce. The company will introduce a series of offerings expected to help IT managers deploy virtual private networks (VPNs), manage user policies and content across multiple Web servers, and provide secure network access.
The company's plans include a tool code-named SSLizer, for secure VPNs, and a set of role-based services based on NDS 8. These and other products will continue Novell's departure from its previous identity as primarily a network operating system vendor, which had been established through its popular flagship product, NetWare.
Novell's role-based services would provide an application layer on top of NDS to designate generic policies based on what a user does in the enterprise, rather than merely on the user's name. A wizard-based utility would enable IT managers to set up tasks and privileges for each role.
SSLizer, meanwhile, would allow IT managers to set up "clientless" VPNs, a situation in which individual PCs would not require client software to establish a browser-based VPN session. This is because the Secure Sockets Layer security technology will be managed in the directory, according to Patrick Harr, Novell product line manager.
But at least one Novell user said the company would face challenges in establishing itself as a vendor of services such as VPN software.
In general, Novell sees the emergence of Internet appliance servers as one of the key growth opportunities for its software. The company plans to position SSLizer, for example, as a hardware appliance-based technology, similar to its Internet Caching System, which is being utilised by Compaq and Dell, Harr said.